Dear Juliette: Letters of May Sarton to Juliette Huxley

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9780393047332: Dear Juliette: Letters of May Sarton to Juliette Huxley

May Sarton's love for Juliette Huxley, ignited that first moment she saw her in 1936, transcended sixty years of friendship, passion, silence, and reconciliation. In the extraordinary breadth and variation of these letters, we see Sarton in all her complexities and are privy to the nuances of her rich amitii amoureuse with Juliette, the preeminent muse and most enduring love of her life.

The letters chart their meeting; May's affair with Juliette's husband, Julian (brother of Aldous Huxley), before the war; her intense involvement with Juliette after the war; and the ardent and life-enhancing friendship that endured between them until Juliette's death. While May's intimate relationship with Julian had not been a secret, her more powerful emotions for Juliette had.

May's fiery passion was a seductive yet sometimes destructive force. Her feelings for and demands on Juliette were often overwhelming to them both. Indeed, Juliette refused all contact with May for nearly twenty-five years, the consequence of May's impulsive threat to tell Julian of their intimacy. The silence was devastating to May, but her love for Juliette never diminished. Their reconciliation after Julian's death was not so much a rekindling as it was a testament to the profound affinities between them. Although theirs had been a relationship rife with complications and misunderstandings, the deep love and compassion they shared for each other prevailed.

Included in this volume are original drafts of and notes for an introduction May Sarton was hoping to complete.

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Review:

The poet May Sarton's reputation took a nosedive after her death in 1995 and the unflattering biography (by Margot Peters) that followed. The publication of her tender, revealing letters has managed to arrest this decline. Susan Sherman, who edited Sarton's Selected Letters, 1916-1954, now offers insight into Sarton's most profound and affecting romance, with Juliette Huxley, the Swiss-born wife of the English scientist Sir Julian Huxley. May and Juliette met in 1936, while May was involved with Julian. Their love affair culminated in one passionate week in Paris in 1948, after which--hurt by May's angry threat that she would tell Julian--Juliette broke off the relationship. After Julian Huxley's death in 1976, they began to write one another again and kept in contact until Juliette's death. As May Sarton wrote in old age, "I have had many lovers, many friends since I was 25 and met Juliette Huxley, but none has so nourished the poet and the lover as she did, the incomparable one." The book includes drafts of introductions by May Sarton and excerpts from a few of Juliette Huxley's responses to Sarton. --Regina Marler

About the Author:

Susan Sherman, a close friend of May Sarton's during the late years, is editor of May Sarton: Among the Usual Days, A Portrait: Forward into the Past, a festschrift honoring Sarton's eightieth birthday; and May Sarton: Selected Letters 1916-1954. Sherman lives in New York.

During her long and productive life (1912-1995), highly esteemed poet and author May Sarton published more than fifty books. Her final journal At Eighty-Two was published in 1995. Her last volume of poetry, Coming into Eighty, 1992, won the Levinson Prize. "In her finest poems," George Garrett has said, "she enlarges the way we feel and the way we think." And of her work as a whole William Drake writes: "There are never more than a few in any generation who can share the world of the spirit with us, to make us know that we are greater in thought and feeling than we believed we were. But May Sarton is such a one, and we are grateful."

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