America today is a mobile society. Many of us travel abroad, and few of us live in the towns or cities where we were born. It wasn't always so. "Travel from America to Europe became a commonplace, an ordinary commodity, some time ago, but when I first went such departure was still surrounded with an atmosphere of adventure and improvisation, and ...
America today is a mobile society. Many of us travel abroad, and few of us live in the towns or cities where we were born. It wasn't always so. "Travel from America to Europe became a commonplace, an ordinary commodity, some time ago, but when I first went such departure was still surrounded with an atmosphere of adventure and improvisation, and my youth and inexperience and my all but complete lack of money heightened that vertiginous sensation," writes W. S. Merwin. Twenty-one, married and graduated from Princeton, the poet embarked on his first visit to Europe in 1948 when life and traditions on the continent were still adjusting to the postwar landscape. "Summer Doorways" captures Merwin at a similarly pivotal time before he won the Yale Younger Poets Award in 1952 for his first book, "A Mask for Janus"--the moment was, as the author writes, "an entire age just before it was gone, like a summer."
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Publishers Weekly, 2005-06-27 In 34 brief, dreamy chapters, esteemed American poet and translator Merwin meanders back to the late 1940s and early 1950s summers of his youth and inexperience. At age 16, he was blessedly released from the watchful protection of his stern Presbyterian father in Scranton, Pa., to attend Princeton, when the university was bereft of young men serving in WWII. Through a Princeton acquaintance, Alain Pr?vost (son of French writer Jean Pr?vost), the impressionable young Merwin secured the position of tutor to Pr?vost's friend Alan Stuyvesant's nephew, Peter, and spent an idyllic summer at the eminent family's bucolic home, Deer Park, in Hackettstown, N.J. Over two summers with Alan's aristocratic family, first at Deer Park, then in St. Jean Cap-Ferrat, France, near Nice, the fledgling writer glimpsed for the first time "some ancient, measureless way of living." Upon graduating, he returned to Europe with his wife and two 12-year-olds he would tutor for the summer in the south of France. Merwin (The Ends of the Earth) is best at succinct, decisive cameos: characters enter his enchanted sphere, then vanish, such as the visiting young Samuel Beckett, memorable for the exquisite fineness of his cucumber slicing. Purposefully incomplete, occasionally frustrating, Merwin's book traces lost worlds. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
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