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Paperback Anne Sexton : A Self-Portrait in Letters Book

ISBN: 0395628806

ISBN13: 9780395628805

Anne Sexton : A Self-Portrait in Letters

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

An expression of this extraordinary poet's life story in her own words. The letters--brilliant, lyrical, caustic, passionate, angry--are a consistently revealing index to her quixotic and exuberant personality.

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Journey Through Letters

I first heard about Anne Sexton in one of my American Literature classes in college when we studied some of her works. Even though I was interested in a few of her poems at the time, I was quick to put her (and her writing) out of my mind. It wasn't until a few years later that I rediscovered Anne in a local bookstore; I happened to see a book called "Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters." Curious, I flipped through some of the pages and started reading fragments of her letters. Moments later, I decided that I wanted to purchase the book. Though it took me a while to read the biography, I became fascinated with Anne and all aspects of her life. The fact that this biography explores both her personal and professional life attracted me as a reader. The title, in itself, is interesting because it caught my attention, and I had never before read a person's biography that consisted mainly of letters--written to acquaintances and loved ones. It was a new experience for me, and a very enjoyable one at that! It seems that nowadays, for the most part, letters are disregarded as they have been replaced by e-mails and text messages. Reading Anne's letters also reminded me of when I used to write to various friends all over the world. Though I have stopped writing letters, Anne's biography took me back in time and allowed me to live vicariously through her written word. "Anne Sexton: A Self-Portrait in Letters" is a definite must have for those who wish to delve further into the mind of a brilliant poet.

Hoping to Find Something in the Midst of All Those Words

When I first began exploring poetry as a pre-teen, trying to go beyond the rhyming and beyond the few things we see in our burst toward "Education," I ran across the works of Anne Sexton and immediately fell in love with them. They were hopeful and hopeless all at once, loving and filled with dismay sometimes on the same page. As I learned more about the author from a scattering of books, I saw how much of herself she put into her writing because she was tormented in so many ways, too, and that this wasn't a love of writing that powered her onward. It was the need to let things go so she could continue living - in a very real physical sense. The failures on the marital front, the challenges that she found in motherhood, the way she found herself struggling with something that culminated with her writing at the start and breaking at the end - it was all there and I really didn't understand that until I read books like A Self-Portrait in Letters. That's possibly one of the things I liked about her more than most poets as well - Anne Sexton was really struggling when she found herself and the painful Muse she used to write. If followed through, you can see the desperation in the motif of work she constructed, and you can see where she feel too far to be salvaged and ultimately ended her life in October of 1974. This book isn't a book of poems and doesn't contain anything like that at all inside. It is instead an intimate glimpse of her as she wrote fellow writers and people she loved, trying to figure out everything besides the pen. It shows how she felt about writing sometimes and how she felt about losing sometimes and, ultimately, it showed how she felt about the divorce that would consume her life and the years off she found and the things that drove her to kill herself. While you can bear witness to this vicariously in her poetry, you can definitely tell that there is something far more driven when looking into her words that she wrote in a montage of letters. More sadly still, you can see her as she struggles to find a way that she will not ever obtain, and you can see the mental illness that silenced one of the most powerful voices poetry has really ever known. If you are a fan of Anne Sexton and would like to see something on her life from her point-of-view, then this is a good book to look into. It IS NOT a good book for someone looking into the works of Sexton because none of that is there ,and I'm not really sure I would recommend it to anyone other than those interested in what really ailed the writer. I found it fascinating to see her private letters and to delve into her life, because I wondered what had taken her from feeling as if she could function to walking away from everything in the prime of her written moments. Still, this is more exploration into a person that anything else, It is trying to understand, too, because understanding is the key to so many a door not opened simply by the quill.

Looove Anne!

I love reading other people's letters. It's a little like catching them undressing! ... Making one feel a little naughty for watching.Ann's letters are quite revealing, refreshing, honest, as if she is talking to you directly. The misspelled words and puntuation errors just add to the honesty of the words...especially in the beginning of the book. The way Anne jumps from here to there... the same way a person's thoughts or ideas would. Anne writes her letters like this!Can you believe Anne Sexton got a C in Engish class w/ little effort? Just goes to show you, the genius many of us may hold inside. But throughout the letters, Anne continually second guesses herself, continually craves validity about her writing..."Is this any good?" She and Sylvia Plath have much in common and discuss their suicide attempts as if it is a common thing to discuss. "How many times have you tried to kill yourself?" Sounds like a poet to me!I so wanted Anne to be happy, to feel satisfyed, to be content with her MANY accomplishments, but the mental illness would not allow her this luxury.Anne wrote letters to many people and made them fall in love with her..."I love you." she told many of them. "I don't know what I would do without you." She even wrote beautiful letters to a monk who was, after a while, willing to leave his Monk-hood. "Oh no!" Anne wrote back. "This love affair can only be in letters!" Yes, what a perfect distance, Anne.One fan wrote about his love for Anne and her poetry. "I am only a housewife!" She wrote back. Did she really see herself this way? Oh, Anne!Anne said..."Poetry is the opposite of Suicide." WOW! And when she finally stopped writing it, she killed herself once again. This time for real.I give Anne's letters five stars, but the book as a whole four stars because of the lack of Anne's poetry, which should have been available for the reader throughout the book.I loooove Anne Sexton!!!!!! put this review under Siammuse!!!!!

The Art of Self-Exposure

The Art of Self-ExposureAnne Sexton (1928-1974) showed the best of herself in letters. To quote Donald Hall she was a `soul-flasher.' She was passionately engaged in living and tormented into dying. Her flight through life was one of breathtaking bravery in the face of crippling odds. The letters date from 1944 when she was sixteen, through 1974 a few days before her death. Full credit should go to the editors, Linda Gray Sexton, daughter of Ann, and Lois Ames, Ann's closest friend. The commentary is sensitive, knowledgeable and readable. The necessary biographical linkage is there.There have always been unfortunate attempts to link Ann Sexton and Sylvia Plath. Their similarities are their age, their sex, their birthplace in the Northeastern United States, and their self-inflicted deaths. And there the similarity ends. Ann was a fragile child who emerged a tormented woman. She was creatively brilliant in a very natural sense; yet she worked feverishly all her life to improve every word she wrote. She once said, "I am tearing at the stars." Ann enjoyed a large circle of devoted friends and repaid their devotion in kind. She was supportive and free with advice to younger struggling poets when she could barely survive her own despair. Ann was a naturally beautiful woman who seemed completely unaware or disinterested in her own breathtaking countenance.I am astounded at how helpless she became at the end of her life. I truly do not comprehend how her friends and family could bear her onslaughts of misery and self-paralysis. They must have loved her very much. These letters are appealing and a pleasure to read. She was a wordsmith as well as an incredible poet. Following is a stanza from "All My Pretty Ones"Never loving ourselves,hating even our shoes and our hats,we love each other, precious, precious.Our hands are light blue and gentle.Our eyes are full of terrible confessions.But when we marry, the children leave in disgust.There is too much food, and no one left overto eat up all the weird abundance.
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