James Ingram Merrill: Overview

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Author: Kevin Ray
Date: 1994
From: Gay & Lesbian Literature(Vol. 1. )
Publisher: Gale
Document Type: Critical essay
Length: 787 words

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Commenting on poet James Merrill's early career, Richard Howard wrote in Alone with America that "the jealous voice of a man capable of no more than objets d'art addressing a man capable of an art transcending objects might easily be the voice of the early James Merrill apostrophizing the writer he was to become: one who managed to make what was merely his poetry into what was necessarily his life." It is a telling observation, for Merrill's career has opened out into life. From the perfect technical intricacy of his early poems, his mastery of language and meter has been joined by a less self-conscious voice—the open, more personally revealing autobiography he uses in such later works as The Changing Light at Sandover.

Merrill was born into a wealthy New York family; his father, a stockbroker, was a founder of Merrill, Lynch, Pierce, Fenner & Smith. The material advantages Merrill enjoyed as a child allowed him to attend private schools that placed a high value on the study of verse. In addition, he was greatly influenced by a governess who was fluent in both German and French from whom he gained an early love of language....

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Gale Document Number: GALE|H1420005568