At Eighty-Two: A Journal

Overview

“Reporting from the front lines on the author’s daily battle with a body and a mind that increasingly refuse to cooperate, At Eighty-Two captures this struggle with a simplicity, elegance and strength that is characteristic of its author and her lifetime of work.” —Philadelphia City Paper
May Sarton's eagerly awaited journals have recorded her life as a single, woman writer and, in later years, as a woman confronting old age. She completed this pilgrimage through her ...

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At Eighty-Two: A Journal

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Overview

“Reporting from the front lines on the author’s daily battle with a body and a mind that increasingly refuse to cooperate, At Eighty-Two captures this struggle with a simplicity, elegance and strength that is characteristic of its author and her lifetime of work.” —Philadelphia City Paper
May Sarton's eagerly awaited journals have recorded her life as a single, woman writer and, in later years, as a woman confronting old age. She completed this pilgrimage through her eighty-second year a few months before she died in 1995.

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Editorial Reviews

Beth Wolfensberger

May Sarton, the poet who charted her late-middle and old age in a series of published journals, died in July, leaving behind the last of them, At Eighty-Two. Sarton worried about this book: "It is a description of severe depression," she writes in one entry, "and I have been wondering even if it should be published."

Such doubts won't be shared, however, by the many readers already addicted to her daily musings. As in her earlier journals, Sarton recounts mostly mundane occurrences -- conversations with her many friends, books she reads. She shares poems and snippets of fan mail; she admires her cat. Her low days stem not from a prescient suspicion that she is living her last full year, but from tallying up regrets. Regret one: that she is "nowhere as a poet" and "a failure" because her fans are "ordinary people," not reviewers. Regret two, ironically (as she occasionally realizes): that she's uncomfortably busy getting published and being revered.

Beset by the frailties of age, she rarely steps out to her beloved garden. Still, she's showered with flowers and notes from devotees, and she so delights in life's small pleasures that -- despite weeping over bum reviews and endangered species -- she rarely seems truly depressed. "Yesterday was a dismal, absolutely dismal day," begins a typical sentence, "except for the fact that a bunch of flowers and a beautiful pink cyclamen came for me." Alternately cranky, whiny, nostalgic, appreciative, thrilled, Sarton is both childish and appealingly childlike. Which may be why, although this isn't the strongest of her journals, we miss her when the final page is turned. -- Salon

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
PW called this last of poet Sarton's published journals "a poignantly intimate portrait of a literary life." (May)
Library Journal
Sarton's final work-she died earlier this year-seems at times an endless complaint. Despite the lavish care and attention offered by her friends and readers, nothing could compensate her for her ill health and lack of critical acclaim by the literary establishment ("being nowhere as a poet"). Depression was an almost constant state for Sarton during her 1993-94 journal-recording year. She writes that she has tried her entire life to go into the inner chamber of her soul, where she is happy. Unlike A Journal of a Solitude (LJ 4/1/73), in which her perception of life is charged with understanding and insight, in this journal the inner soul is illusive. The daily deluge of devotional letters, the routine gifts of chocolate and flowers, the translation of her writings into Japanese do not boost her spirit. Sarton knew that life is full of poetry. However, she also knew "there is a pane of glass between me and almost everything," excepting her cat, Pierrot. Sarton asks, "Where is myself? God knows." There must have been some satisfaction in knowing that. For literature collections.-Robert L. Kelly, Fort Wayne Community Schs., Ind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393316223
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/28/1997
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 1,187,127
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

May Sarton (1912-1995) was an acclaimed poet, novelist, and memoirist.

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