A Different Person: A Memoir

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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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A different person: a memoir

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As much a storyteller as a poet, Merrill, the Pulitzer Prize-winning heir to the Merrill-Lynch fortune, delights with this graceful account of a 30-month stay in Europe in the 1950s that was to become ... Read full review


Decision to go abroad My dearest friend
Tony puts one over on the French Visit
With my father in Italy Dr Simeons

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About the author (1993)

James Ingram Merrill 1926-1995 James Ingram Merrill was born in New York on March 3, 1926. He attended Amherst College. Merrill would go on to receive every major poetry award in the United States, including the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Divine Comedies. Merrill was honored in mid-career with the Bollingen Prize in 1973. He would receive the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1983 for his epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover. He won the National Book Award for Poetry twice, in 1967 for Nights and Days and in 1979 for Mirabell: Books of Number. Merrill died on February 6, 1995. Since his death, his work has been anthologized in three divisions: Collected Poems, Collected Prose, and Collected Novels and Plays.

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