Sarton Selected

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

As the daughter of George Sarton, the great historian of science, and Mabel Elwes Sarton, the English artist, May Sarton enjoyed a childhood immensely rich in human exchange and intellectual stimulation. The bridge joining science and art that spanned her family became the archetype for her own development as a human being and writer. Her novels and poems throw out nets that gather in a wide variety of readers. She combines European and American sensibility, celebrates solitude and friendship, and has been praised for increasing understanding between the homosexual and heterosexual worlds.

This anthology bears witness to her literary range with a quiet but determined confidence—one could say, pride—in the self-evident power of her work. There is a long introduction by the editor entitled “May Sarton and the Common Reader’; the title implies the case for Sarton which the essay asserts, namely that she has outlasted the critics who confused her stunning simplicity with naivete and/or sentimentality by developing an unusually strong bond with her many readers from all walks of life. Another introductory essay follows, this one by Constance Hunting, which concentrates on Sarton’s poetry and makes much the same case for it as Daziel has for her work as a whole.

In a short essay, “Revision and Creation,” Sarton herself describes the essence of what poetic composition means to her. This is followed by a representative selection of her...

(The entire section is 437 words.)