Relatively little critical attention has been directed towards the explication of James Merrill's difficult poems, much less towards the understanding of his densely-layered symbolism. This is the first comprehensive study to look at Merrill's difficult symbolic system and to provide a close reading of Merrill's epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover. Adams reads Merrill's poetry through various lenses, primarily those of Freudian psychology and of the Jungian archetypal system. His approach allows the reader to view individual works as part of the larger picture of Merrill's quest to save his life through his art.
Strives to make the contemporary New York poet more accessible by showing that he is not as elitist as most critics say. Working primarily through Freudian psychology and Jung's archetypal system, centextualizes Merrill's work in literary and intellectual tradition, and argues that it combines the confessional poet's autobiographical openness with the mythologizing poet's use of tightly packed symbolism. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.