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Paperback Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing Book

ISBN: 0393309290

ISBN13: 9780393309294

Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

May Sarton's ninth novel explores a woman's struggle to reconcile the claims of life and art, to transmute passion and pain into poetry. As it opens, Hilary Stevens, a renowned poet in her seventies, is talking with Mar, an intense young man who has sought her out and whose passionate despair reminds her of herself when young. Mar has had an unhappy love affair with a man. Bewildered by both his sexuality and his writing talent, he flings his anguish...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Sarton's Guide

This book should be read by anyone who is a writer or who wants to be. It is the story of an elderly woman, a writer, who is being interviewed by two young journalists. As they interview her, she flashes back to different times in her life and offers insights into how/why she wrote her various works. She is also trying to help a young man understand himself (and not always willingly). This book tells the tale of how Hilary Stevens found her Muse, a different one for different times in her life, and gives us insights in how to find ours. I am keeping this book.

Passion-channeled poetry

Do not pick up this book if you are hoping for an action-packed novel. This is a slow a narrative as it gets, and rightfully so. It is a very beautiful book. The Mrs. Stevens of the title is a poet. A newly published book of poems is bringing her fame and attention. A couple of journalists want to interview her. The book has four parts: ° her preparations and musings pre-interview: Hilary Stevens was born in New England with a hot-blooded Mediterranean personality. She was never the daughter her parents expected, and she hated being a girl, because at an early age she understood all the extra constraints she would have to endure just for that fact. She recounts her discoveries of love, her early passions, her writing, with a mixture of loving nostalgia and disgust. ° the interviewers dialogs on their way to her house: esoteric English majors (boy and girl) waxing about the beauty of language and love (quite boring, in my opinion) ° the interview itself: where Hilary takes the interviewers for a wrestling match of the brains, the meaning of life, the meaning of her poems, and comes out very victorious. Hilary and the girl journalist understand each other and make the boy journalist feel inadequate. ° the post-interview and the following day: Hilary has a young friend, Mar, who helps her in the garden and does small repairs in her cottage. Mar is tormented, coming to terms with his homosexuality. Hilary can understand this very well, because she was/is a passionate person, and Mar is still searching for the tools to deal with his passion in a less destructive way. Hilary suggests poetry as a good avenue. Mar and Hilary have fruitful conversations by the ocean. After a few days of stirring the past, Hilary comes to terms with her life as best as she can.

A fascinating look at being a woman and a writer

May Sarton's novel "Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing" tells the story of Hilary Stevens, a 70-year old poet and novelist who lives in a house by the sea with her cat, Sirenica. When a two-person team comes to interview her, she reflects on her life, love affairs, and literary career."Mrs. Stevens" is a fascinating fictional portrait of a woman writer. It's fun to hear the characters discuss the novels and poetry books written by this invented character; the book has an almost Borgesian flavor in parts as this imaginary oeuvre is explored. In this book Sarton also explores sexual and romantic love in its various permutations: male-male, female-male, and female-female. Along the way the characters invoke a number of important female writers: Sappho, Jane Austen, Colette, etc.Sarton deals with a number of compelling issues in this book: the tension between female creativity and procreativity; women's mental health; the fickle fortunes of the literary world; and the impact of a book's reception on its author. Sarton has a satiric touch in her look at the literary/publishing establishment, a gentle touch in her look at human relations. And throughout there are some nice touches, like details about Hilary's work in her garden. Overall, a solid achievement from an impressively prolific writer.

we enter life naked but leave cloaked in pain.

about life, poetry...this was an incredible book. not based as much on plot as ideas, this book uses f. hilary stevens, an accomplished poet, as a medium through which we see that life, despite its inherent pain, is amazing and beautiful once viewed in the right way. eloquently written, and hard to put down.

A Meditation on art and life

This book is wonderful for all readers. Detailing the experiences of a lesbian woman coming to terms with the terminus of her life and the art she has produced, this book bridges ideas and generations. There is so much there that this is a must for any person who wants to think seriously about art and life.
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