May Sarton with Polly Thayer Starr’s portrait
Miss May Sarton (1937), 1992, via the Cambridge Historical Society

On January 1, 1975, May Sarton, the American diarist, poet, and novelist, went up to the third-floor study of her house in York, Maine, and glanced out the window at its ocean view. She had just one daily task ahead—walking the dog at noon. When she opened a new calendar, the “only connect” epigraph from E. M. Forster’s Howards End caught her eye. Sarton began an entry in her journal by recording this moment and soon fell into a riff about solitude and detachment, one of the “mini-essays,” as she called them, that appear in her journals. The context of her thoughts that morning was the recent Christmas...

 

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