May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude

From S. Dorman’s journal, Feb, 2011 at 9:45 AM

After reading about one third of my way through May Sarton’s Journal of a Solitude, I found myself agreeing with the idea expressed in Warren Lewis’s journal: Introspection unnecessarily weighs in unbalance. As suggested by the title, her entries are focused on the interior life, very much tightened down to the self-perspective, and seem lacking in the holism I found so absorbing and appealing in the books of Lindbergh and Lewis. 

Solitude contains too much thought, which inevitably squelches dynamism and the outward connection so necessary to a sense of well-being. There are not enough of the moments, so beautifully described, in which she shows us her house all alight at dusk or takes us through the purification of weeding the flowerbed with her. Instead, the reader must absorb a record of depression that cannot fail to influence his or her own inner life, so well is it written.

In the (too few) wonderful passages, she speaks of being an often lonely writer. She encourages us with her thoughts on failing to be a best seller or receive a “leg up from the critics.” The consolation comes with the knowledge that her work stands alone to “make its way, heart by heart, as it is discovered by a few people with all the excitement of a person who finds a wild-flower in the woods that he has discovered on his own.” (p. 67.) Then she gives thanks that such attention was steadily forthcoming in her later years. Here she really touches on something gentle which actually enters in and consoles, so free is it, at last, of ambition.