The poet and author's "beautiful . . . wise and warm" journal of time spent in her New Hampshire home alone with her garden, her books, the seasons, and herself (Eugenia Thornton, Cleveland Plain Dealer). "Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self." --May Sarton May Sarton's parrot chatters away as Sarton looks out the window at the rain and contemplates returning to her "real" life--not friends, not even love, but writing. In her bravest and most revealing memoir, Sarton casts her keenly observant eye on both the interior and exterior worlds. She shares insights about everyday life in the quiet New Hampshire village of Nelson, the desire for friends, and need for solitude--both an exhilarating and terrifying state. She likens writing to "cracking open the inner world again," which sometimes plunges her into depression. She confesses her fears, her disappointments, her unresolved angers. Sarton's garden is her great, abiding joy, sustaining her through seasons of psychic and emotional pain. Journal of a Solitude is a moving and profound meditation on creativity, oneness with nature, and the courage it takes to be alone. Both uplifting and cathartic, it sweeps us along on Sarton's pilgrimage inward. This ebook features an extended biography of May Sarton.
I could relate to the author's desire to spend time alone, because it often feels to me that to feel fulfilled as a writer or even a reader, I have to isolate myself and spend a lot of time--maybe too much time--in my head. Ms. Sarton writes, "That is what is strange--that friends, even passionate love, are not my real life unless there is time alone in which to explore and to discover what is happening or has happened. Without the interruptions, nourishing and maddening, this life would become arid. yet I taste it fully only when I am alone here and the house and I resume old conversations." I too have often marveled that even the most exciting adventures only seem real to me when I can relive them in private, with time to think and reflect on my own. I too am an introvert like Ms. Sarton and times I feel like this: "For a long time now, every meeting with another human being has been a collision. I feel too much, sense too much, am exhausted by the reverberations after even the simplest conversation. But the deep collision is and has been with my unregenerate, tormenting, and tormented self. I have written every poem, every novel, for the same purpose--to find out what I think, to know where I stand. I am unable to become what I see. I feel like an inadequate machine, a machine that breaks down at crucial moments, grinds to a dreadful halt, 'won't go,' or, even worse, explodes in some innocent person's face."
The good thing about this book is that it details the life of a writer. I always like reading about writers and this book is no exception, although I hadn't heard of Ms. Sarton or her writings before I read this book. She comes across as arrogant and whiny at times, when she wonders why her works haven't won more recognition or popularity and she belittles the works of other writers. People who like nature and gardening would also like this book.
The bad thing about this book is that it has the tendency to become boring and repetitive. I pushed through and because it was a short book and I could relate to the parts about writing and living a solitary life. I finished it and enjoyed it for what it was but at this point I don't really have a desire to read anything else by Ms. Sarton. I give this book two and half stars.
depression — her need of alone time —
"I am here alone for the first time in weeks," May Sarton begins this book, "to take up my 'real' life again at last. That is what is strange—that friends, even passionate love,are not my real life, unless there is time alone in which to explore what is happening or what has happened." In this journal, she says, "I hope to break through into the rough, rocky depths,to the matrix itself. There is violence there and anger never resolved. My need to be alone is balanced against my fear of what will happen when suddenly I enter the huge empty silence if I cannot find support there."
This volume doesn't minimize those shortcomings altogether, but they nevertheless remained always in the background as I read. I will read another volume, but not for a while. Too many other books stacked by my bed.