A Different Person: A Memoir

  • Binding: Hardcover

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A great American poet - winner of every major prize America can offer its poets, from the Pulitzer to the Bollingen - opens his life to us in a memoir that puts wit, sensibility, and elegance of mind to the service of unflinching autobiographical truth.
The memoir's central thread is Merrill's thirty-month sojourn in Europe. A youth of twenty-four, born to comfort and privilege, and now at a crossroads, he sets sail in 1950, with a young man's passionate expectations. Having sold his first book of poems, having recently met ( or so I thought ) the love of his life, yet beginning to feel constrained by his social circles, and seeing no way into the next phase of his life, he envisions himself returning from his travels a different person. His vivid stories of encounters across Europe - with friends and lovers, with great cities, with great works of art, with opera, with psychoanalysis, with artists and aristocrats - are followed by postscripts reaching back to childhood and forward towards the present and the person he is. His memoir enthralls as a revelation of a poet's life, as a portrayal of the complexities that bind a son to his parents, and as perhaps the most lucid and inward account we have had of a homosexual life in a world of intellect and art. A fascinating work. A literary event.

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