Dickinson, Emily (Elizabeth)
Emily (Elizabeth) Dickinson 1830–1886
Although only seven of Dickinson's poems were published during her lifetime—all anonymously and some apparently without her consent—Dickinson is considered a premier American poet. Choosing the lyric as her form, Dickinson wrote on a variety of subjects, including nature, love, death, and immortality. As she honed the lyric format, Dickinson developed a unique style, characterized by compressed expression, the use of enjambment, and an exploration of the possibilities of language. In 1955 the publication of Thomas H. Johnson's edition of Dickinson's complete poems prompted renewed scholarly interest in her work. Modern criticism has focused on Dickinson's style, structure, use of language, and the various themes found in her poetry. Some critics have examined these same issues from a feminist viewpoint. Regardless of the critical angle, most modern scholars incorporate some discussion of Dickinson's life experiences into their examinations of her work.
Critical and popular interest in Dickinson's life has been fueled by the mythology that has grown up around the limited factual knowledge available. Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1830. The daughter of a prosperous lawyer and an invalid mother, Dickinson's schoolwork was often interrupted by time spent at home learning domestic chores. Beginning in 1835, she spent four years at a primary school and then attended Amherst Academy from 1840 to 1847. From there, Dickinson advanced to Mount Holyoke Female Seminary for one year, where her studies were influenced by New England Puritanism. This, together with Dickinson's Unitarian upbringing, heavily influenced her poetry's structure—the lyric form she used was a revision of the hymn quatrain—as well as its content—religious themes are the focus of many of her poems. Despite these influences on her work, though, personal faith eluded her and she remained an agnostic throughout her life.
After her year at Mount Holyoke, Dickinson returned to her family's home where she remained almost exclusively for the rest of her life. From 1851 to 1855,
she made a few brief visits to Boston, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. Biographers speculate that on one trip to Philadelphia, Dickinson fell in love with a married minister, the Reverend Charles Wadsworth, and that her disappointment from this affair triggered her subsequent withdrawal from society. This, and other rumors of romantic entanglements, are largely conjecture; however, it is known that her reclusiveness intensified over the years. Her personal habits—always wearing white, never leaving her home, refusing to receive visitors—earned her a reputation for eccentricity. In 1874, Dickinson's father died unexpectedly, leaving her to care for her invalid mother, who died in 1882. Dickinson died in 1886 after being diagnosed with Bright's disease, a kidney disorder.
Over the course of her writing career, Dickinson composed nearly eighteen hundred poems, all in the form of brief lyrics. She explored a variety of subjects: the austerity and beauty of nature, experiences of love and loss, and her own skeptical attitude toward religion and immortality, as well as her fascination with death. Drawing heavily from biblical sources and influenced by such poets as George Herbert, Shakespeare, and John Keats, Dickinson developed a highly personal system of symbol and allusion, assigning complex meanings to colors, places, times, and seasons. She experimented with compression, enjambment, and unusual rhyme schemes, and also employed an idiosyncratic use of capitalization and punctuation, thereby creating a poetic style that further distinguished her verse from contemporary American poetry.
Initial criticism of Dickinson's work, following the 1890 publication of Poems of Emily Dickinson, was largely unfavorable, yet her work received widespread popular acclaim. Willis Buckingham has noted that readers in the 1890s often praised Dickinson's "inspired" thoughts and emotions rather than her poetic technique. Modern critics, though, have come to appreciate Dickinson's accomplishments in language and poetic structure. Margaret Dickie has challenged critics who have attempted to provide a narrative analysis of Dickinson's work by studying her poetry as a whole. Dickie maintains that the poems were written as lyrics, and should be examined as such. Karen Oakes has explored Dickinson's use of metonymy to establish an intimate, feminine discourse with her readers. Other critics, such as Judy Jo Small and Timothy Morris, have analyzed Dickinson's rhyme structure, Small noting the acoustical effects of this structure, and Morris observing how Dickinson's patterns of rhyme and enjambment developed over time.
Many critics have also explored the various themes of Dickinson's poetry against the backdrop of events in her personal life. Among these are Jane Donahue Eberwein, who has studied the poems concerning love and its redemption, and Nadean Bishop, who has focused on Dickinson's spirituality, specifically the poems that seem to indicate the poet's rejection of religious dogma in favor of a private version of God and heaven. Paula Hendrickson, who has examined Dickinson's poems that focus on the precise moment of death, notes that these poems are typically treated as a subcategory of the death poem genre and are rarely treated individually.
Power is another of Dickinson's themes that has received a great deal of critical attention. R. McClure Smith has examined how Dickinson uses the trope of seduction to explore her relationship to patriarchal power. Feminist critics have also found the issue of power of great significance in Dickinson's work. Cheryl Walker maintains that while many feminist critics try to assert that Dickinson's life was "a model of successful feminist manipulation of circumstances," in fact, the poet was attracted to masculine forms of power. Paula Bennett, on the other hand, has contended that Dickinson's relationships with women were more significant than her struggles with men, male power, or male tradition. Bennett argues that Dickinson's relationship with women provided her with the comfort and safety necessary for the poet to explore her own sexuality. This contention, Bennett states, is supported by a reading of Dickinson's poems that recognizes their homoeroticism and use of clitoral imagery.
The enigmatic details surrounding Dickinson's life continue to fascinate readers and critics alike. Yet it is the technical originality of her poetry, the variety of themes she addressed, and the range and depth of intellectual and emotional experience she explored that have established Dickinson's esteemed reputation as an American poet.
Poems by Emily Dickinson (poetry) 1890
Poems by Emily Dickinson, second series (poetry) 1891
Letters of Emily Dickinson. 2 vols, (letters) 1894
Poems by Emily Dickinson, third series (poetry) 1896
The Single Hound: Poems of a Lifetime (poetry) 1914
Further Poems of Emily Dickinson (poetry) 1929
Unpublished Poems of Emily Dickinson (poetry) 1935
Bolts of Melody: New Poems of Emily Dickinson (poetry) 1945
The Poems of Emily Dickinson. 3 vols, (poetry) 1955
The Letters of Emily Dickinson. 3 vols, (letters) 1958
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SOURCE: "Emily Dickinson: A Poet Restored," in Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Richard B. Sewell, Prentice Hall, 1963, pp. 88-100.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1956, Ransom provides a general overview of twentieth-century criticism of Dickinson's poetry, noting in particular the impact of Thomas H. Johnson's 1955 edition of Dickinson's verse, as well as the characteristics and major themes of her poetry.]
We would have to go a good way back into the present century to find the peak of that furious energy which produced our biggest and most whirling flood of verse in this country. So it is not too foolhardy to make a proposal to the literary historian: Will he not see if the principal literary event of these last twenty years or so has not been the restoration just now of an old poet? Emily Dickinson's life was spanned by the years 1830-86, and in most ways she was surely not one of our "moderns."
But I will anticipate the historian's reservation. There is one kind of literary event which we think of as primary, and it occurs when a new poet comes decisively into his powers and starts upon his unique career. But often this event occurs obscurely, and receives only a small public notice. I am sure I do not know if a poet of Emily Dickinson's stature has launched himself in these late years, as she did about a century ago. Evidently it may be...
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SOURCE: "Emily Dickinson's Prose," in Emily Dickinson: A Collection of Critical Essays, edited by Richard B. Sewell, Prentice Hall, 1963, pp. 162-77.
[In the following essay, originally part of a 1961 doctoral dissertation, Higgins studies Dickinson's letters, observing that in both prose and poetry Dickinson reduced thoughts and ideas to their essences, Higgins discusses the method by which Dickinson composed her letters and her habit of combining poetry with her prose.]
An earnest letter is or should be a life-warrant or death-warrant, for what is each instant but a gun, harmless because "unloaded," but that touched "goes off?"
"Last night the Warings had their novel wedding festival." T. W. Higginson wrote to his sister in 1876. "The Woolseys were bright as usual & wrote some funny things for different guests—one imaginary letter to me from my partially cracked poetess at Amherst, who writes to me & signs 'Your scholar'" (II, 570).1
The partially cracked poetess, Emily Dickinson, had no idea her letters were shown to strangers or parodied, but she knew they were unusual. A few days before Higginson enjoyed the Woolseys' imitation of her style, Emily had sent his wife Emerson's Representative Men as "a little Granite Book you can lean upon." In lieu of a signature...
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SOURCE: "'The Wildest Word': The Habit of Renunciation," in Dickinson: Strategies of Limitation, University of Massachusetts Press, 1985, pp. 21-46.
[In the following essay, Eberwein examines the theme of renunciation in Dickinson's love poems, suggesting the possible correlation between certain life experiences and Dickinson's verse.]
"Dont you know you are happiest while I withhold and not confer—dont you know that 'No' is the wildest word we consign to Language?" (L 562). Dickinson posed these questions in an 1878 letter to Judge Otis Phillips Lord at an early stage in her autumnal romance with the widowed Salem jurist, her father's friend and ally in Massachusetts Whig politics. They exemplify a pattern of thinking that had come to characterize her over the years: a habit of renunciation, an excitement in denial, a preference for restrictions. Notions about Emily Dickinson's pitifully deprived life originated in her biography itself; the deprivation was there (mostly of her own choosing) though the pity is misplaced if it presumes her preference for normal domestic routine over an artistically chiseled existence. In a comment to Higginson that accompanied a memoir of George Eliot, the poet clearly recognized the chasm between life as written and life as lived: "Biography first convinces us of the fleeing of the Biographied—" (L 972). But it is inevitable that her readers take the same sort of...
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SOURCE: "'Chastisement of Beauty': A Mode of the Religious Sublime in Dickinson's Poetry," in American Transcendental Quarterly, University of Rhode Island, Vol. 1, No. 3, September, 1987, pp. 247-56.
[In the following essay, Leonard considers Dickinson as a Romantic poet, arguing that her emphasis on emotion in her poetry (like that of other Romantic poets) is rooted in the eighteenth-century notion of the sublime.]
Emily Dickinson shared with other Romantic poets, American and European, the intuition that the age of reason had run its course and had failed to bring the hoped-for illumination and order. In the new century, as the focus turned toward the self, the feelings of the individual tended to replace authority and schema in the measure of truth and beauty. From the beginning, Dickinson's poetry reflects the poet's awareness that emotional sensations occur in various dimensions within the consciousness, so that joy and grief, for example, or exultation and fear, may combine in single complex reactions. The most intense emotions, in fact, are frequently the most paradoxical. The combination of emotional opposites would become characteristic in Dickinson's poetry, and it is in fact the indivisible unity of terror and ecstasy which constituted what Dickinson considered the most intense emotion of all, what she called "awe."
Dickinson's expression of emotion, like that of other...
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SOURCE: "Queen of Calvary: Spirituality in Emily Dickinson," in University of Dayton Review, Vol. 19, No. 1, Winter, 1987-1988, pp. 49-60.
[In the following essay, Bishop asserts that the spirituality so central to Dickinson 's poetry is characterized by the poet's dismissal of contemporary religious dogma as well as by her decision, "based on Self-Reliance," to envision her own version of God and heaven.]
Many books and essays on Emily Dickinson's poetry have appeared in the last five years, and each approaches the question of spirituality divergently depending on the author's dominant focus. Barbara Mossberg deals with Dickinson as dutiful and rebellious daughter; Jane Eberwein concentrates on strategies of limitation; Sandra Gilbert rehabilitates domesticity; and Vivian R. Pollak analyzes the anxiety of gender. The critics agree, however, that spirituality holds a central place in Dickinson's poetry.
Charles Anderson concludes his essay. "Grief." in Harold Bloom's 1985 collection on Dickinson by saying: "She dedicated herself to creating the one thing of absolute value that, in her view, the human being is capable of. It goes under the rather inadequate name of religion, or art, the vision that comes with human's utmost reach towards truth and beauty. (Anderson. 35) Jane Eberwein asserts: "God was the most important person in Emily Dickinson's life. Her relationship with him excelled...
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SOURCE: "Names and Verbs: Influences on the Poet's Language," in Emily Dickinson: A Poet's Grammar, Harvard University Press, 1987, pp. 131-203.
[In the following essay, Miller investigates the various works and authors who influenced the style, theories, and themes of Dickinson's poetry. Miller contends that perhaps the greatest influence on Dickinson was the Bible, which served as a model for Dickinson's use of several techniques, including compression, parataxis, and disjunction]
Books are the best things, well used; abused, among the worst. What is the right use? … They are for nothing but to inspire. I had better never see a book than to be warped by its attraction clean out of my own orbit, and made a satellite instead of a system … One must be an inventor to read well.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, "The American Scholar"
… I present a case for various stylistic, theoretical, and thematic influences on Dickinson's writing, examining probable models or sources for the most striking of her language techniques and ideas. Dickinson read widely and passionately. By the number of her references to books and quotations from them, it is evident that the Bible was her best known text—although, like Melville, she seems to have regarded it more as a "lexicon" of "certain phenomenal men" and mysteries than as an orthodox...
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SOURCE: "Dickinson's Discontinuous Lyric Self," in American Literature, Vol. 60, No. 4, December, 1988, pp. 537-53.
[In the following essay, Dickie maintains that Dickinson's poems should be analyzed not as pieces of a narrative, but as lyric poems in which the qualities of brevity, repetition, and figuration are the most pertinent and the most telling. Dickie stresses that such an analysis reveals a sense of self that is "particular, discontinuous, limited, private, hidden," and that this conclusion challenges those reached by feminist and psychoanalytic narrative character analyses.]
It is the habit of our times to read poetry as if it were prose perhaps because recent strategies for reading derive from and are most easily applied to prose. Psychoanalytic, Marxist, feminist models for reading all depend to one extent or another upon a plot, upon character, and upon extended development. When these models are applied to a form such as a lyric poem that is brief, repetitive, and figurative, they fit uneasily and most usefully only when the lyric form itself is neglected in favor of the narrative that can be derived from joining together a number of poems. It must be admitted that the brevity of the lyric poses an obstacle to a critical argument because it is equally difficult to make a compelling point on the basis of a single brief lyric and, for different reasons, to discuss a series of poems as one...
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SOURCE: "Welcome and Beware: The Reader and Emily Dickinson's Figurative Language," in ESQ, Vol. 34, No. 3, 1988, pp. 181-206.
[In the following essay, Oakes argues that Dickinson uses metonymy to develop a "culturally feminine " discursive intimacy with her readers.]
"Much Madness is divinest Sense—/ To a discerning Eye," affirms Emily Dickinson: how one "reads" depends on the quality of the reader's lens, the "I." Dickinson muses often, directly and indirectly, about reading. Poetry stuns with "Bolts of Melody"; from "A Word dropped careless on a Page," the reader may "inhale" "Infection," "Despair," "Malaria."1 To Higginson, she insists, "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way" (Letter 342a). But how does poetry engage or threaten a reader? What or who is Dickinson's reader?
I will argue that the poet's vivid sense of participation in the reading process, based in her feminine psychology, informs how she imagines her strongest relationship with her own reader. Specifically, I will argue that Dickinson uses metonymy, and, in particular, the implied or stated "you," to seek a culturally feminine (that is, not merely female) discourse which establishes or...
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SOURCE: "The Development of Dickinson's Style," in On Dickinson: The Best from American Literature, edited by Edwin H. Cady and Louis J. Budd, Duke University Press, Vol. 60, No. 1, 1990, pp. 157-72.
[In the following essay, originally published in 1988, Morris contends that, contrary to the opinion of many critics, Dickinson's style did change and develop over time. Morris maintains that by measuring the rhyme and enjambment patterns of Dickinson's poetry, one can see that the "formal contours of her verse" evolved throughout her writing career.]
It has become a given of Dickinson criticism that the poet's style never changed. A recent study begins: "As more than one critic has observed, Emily Dickinson's poetry reaches its maturity almost immediately. Beginning with the verse valentine of 1850 (P-1), she is in full possession of the technical and thematic powers that distinguish her finest lyrics."1 Most critics in the last twenty years have accepted this view; several of the most distinguished writers on Dickinson agree that her style was unchanging, including Barbara Antonina Clarke Mossberg, David Porter, and Robert Weisbuch.2 The thesis that Dickinson's style never developed owes a great deal to Charles R. Anderson. In 1960 Anderson wrote: "The chronological arrangement of the new edition [Thomas H. Johnson's 1955 variorum] has been useful in minor ways, but not for selecting...
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SOURCE: "Her Moment of Brocade: The Reconstruction of Emily Dickinson," in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Vol. 15, No. 1, 1989, pp. 9-44.
[In the following essay, Fulton contends that while Dickinson is acknowledged as a premier American poet, there remains a resistance among critics to a "Dickinsonian tradition in American letters." Fulton explores the possible reasons for this resistance and notes that when Dickinson is judged by the criteria derived from the work of other major poets and movements, her unique accomplishments, particularly in the area of language, are overlooked.]
The way Hope builds his House
It is not with a sill—
Nor Rafter—has Mars—
But only Pinnacle—
(1481, variant version)
The following bit of apocryphal gossip made the rounds of writers' conferences last summer: Two well-known poets stand at a podium, both of them in their fifties. One waits to read her poems; the other to introduce her. The poet who'll read wears a fifties circle skirt to which a large felt poodle is appliquéd. Her introducer, a short heavy woman, is dressed in paisley jodhpurs and a jeweled sweater. In the audience an up-and-coming man poet1 of a younger generation shifts restlessly in his chair. (The fashion report on him is never given.) Leaning toward the man beside him, he whispers...
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SOURCE: "Locating a Feminist Critical Practice: Between the Kingdom and the Glory," in Emily Dickinson: a Celebration for Readers, edited by Suzanne Juhasz and Cristanne Miller, Gordon and Breach, 1989, pp. 9-19.
[In the following essay, Walker analyzes the way in which Dickinson's views and portrayals of power relationships were influenced "by her experience of gender." Walker maintains that while some feminist examinations of Dickinson have painted her life as a "model of a successful feminist manipulation of circumstances," this view is inaccurate, given Dickinson's fascination with male power.]
In three different letters, numbered by Johnson and Ward 292, 330, and 583, Emily Dickinson uses a passage from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:13) to privilege power as a category surpassing or incorporating kingdom and glory. One such passage reads: "When I was a little Girl I remember hearing that remarkable passage and preferring the 'Power,' not knowing at the time that 'Kingdom' and 'Glory' were included" (L 330).
As a feminist critic I am concerned with power: both the power language confers and the power relations which affect language use itself. Dickinson was first taken up in a major way by the New Critics who preferred what I would call the glory aspect of power in its synchronie dimensions. This was an era in which the "universality" of Dickinson's poems, particularly those...
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SOURCE: "The Pea That Duty Locks: Lesbian and Feminist-Heterosexual Readings of Emily Dickinson's Poetry," in Lesbian Texts and Contexts: Radical Revisions, edited by Karla Jay and Joanne Glasgow, New York University Press, 1990, pp. 104-25.
[In the following essay, Bennett challenges feminist critics who study Dickinson "as a woman poet" but within the context of Dickinson's "relationship to the male tradition." Bennett asserts that Dickinson's erotic poetry suggests that the poet viewed her relationships with women as safe and protected, and that these relationships allowed Dickinson to explore her sexuality.]
[The clitoris] is endowed with the most intense erotic sensibility, and is probably the prime seat of that peculiar life power, although not the sole one.
—Charles D. Meigs, Woman: Her Diseases and Remedies, 1851
One would have to dig down very deep indeed to discover … some clue to woman's sexuality. That extremely ancient civilization would undoubtedly have a different alphabet, a different language…. Woman's desire would not be expected to speak the same language as man's.
—Luce Irigaray, This Sex Which is Not One, 1985
In a 1985 essay in Feminist Studies, Margaret Homans brilliantly analyzes Emily Dickinson's use of vaginal imagery...
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SOURCE: '"Compound Manner': Emily Dickinson and the Metaphysical Poets," in On Dickinson: The Best from American Literature, edited by Edwin H. Cady and Louis J. Budd, Duke University Press, 1990, pp. 52-68.
[In the following essay, Farr traces the influence of seventeenth-century metaphysical poets, such as John Donne and George Herbert, on Dickinson's verse.]
The habit of Emily Dickinson's mind led her, like George Herbert, to construct a "Double Estate" in which this world was "furnished with the Infinite," in which God was her "Old Neighbor," and death, agony, and grace were fleshly companions. The discipline that wrought many of her poems was the metaphysical one of a "Compound Vision" by which the eternal is argued from the transient, the foreign explained by the familiar, and fact illumined by mystery. She could speak of "Infinite March," of Calvary as another Amherst, of the "Diagram—of Rapture" because she practiced the metaphysical awareness of the unity of experience. Reared in the sternly religious society of the Connecticut Valley and in the rigorous atmosphere of the Dickinson household, she learned early to meditate upon essentials: mortality, the temporal presence of God, man's relationship with God and with creation. The acute sensibility that prompted the remark of the girl of twenty-one: "I think of the grave very often" shaped the witty double consciousness of the mature poet who...
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SOURCE: "Dickinson and the Process of Death," in Dickinson Studies, Vol. 77, 1st Half, 1991, pp. 33-43.
[In the following essay, Hendrickson studies the poems of Dickinson which refer to the precise moment of death, stating that these poems are often grouped as a subcategory of Dickinson's death poems and are rarely studied individually. Hendrickson analyzes in particular the imagery and themes specific to these poems.]
While many books and articles have been written on the topic of Emily Dickinson's death poems, virtually nothing has been published about her moment of death poems. On rare occasions, scholars have mentioned the moment of death poems as a sub-catagory of her death poems. In researching this paper, I found nothing which dealt with this topic any further. This is unfortunate, because the most fascinating of ED [Emily Dickinson]'s death poems involve the description of the very moment of death. Some of these poems are seen thru the eyes of a bystander, and some are seen thru the eyes of the person who is dying. It has been documented by Dickinson in her own letters that she held a certain fascination about the process of dying. She had even been known to write letters to the bereaved, asking for the details of the deceased's final moments. Characteristically, this near-obsession with the process of dying found its way into her poetry. Perhaps the clearest example of her morbid curiosity is...
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SOURCE: "Poetry Readers and Reading in the 1890's: Emily Dickinson's First Reception," in Readers in History: Nineteenth-Century American Literature and the Contexts of Response, edited by James L. Machor, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, pp. 164-79.
[In the following essay, Buckingham reviews the reception of Dickinson's poetry by readers in the 1890s, stating that they praised her inspirational thoughts and feelings more than they respected her poetic technique.]
When Emily Dickinson's Poems first appeared in 1890, her reluctant Boston publisher, Thomas Niles of Roberts Brothers, wondered whether his firm could afford to underwrite even a small edition of 500 copies.1 Within three months the book had elicited well over 100 reviews, and Roberts Brothers was shipping its sixth printing. By decade's end, sales of that first volume alone had reached 10,000; two additional collections of poems and one of letters accounted for another 10,000 books sold. The 600 notices her books received are recently collected in my Emily Dickinson's Reception in the 1890s: A Documentary History.2 These reviews demonstrate that Dickinson's Poems occasioned an immediate and remarkable response from magazinists and journalists of the day. During that first decade of publication the Amherst poet was brought and held in prominence by a community of some 500 commentators who...
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SOURCE: "'He Asked If I Was His': The Seductions of Emily Dickinson," in ESQ, Vol. 40, No. 1, 1994, pp. 27-65.
[In the following essay, Smith traces the influence of Dickinson 's relationship to the "disciplinary power of her patriarchal culture, " arguing that this power struggle is portrayed in Dickinson 's use of the "trope of seduction. "]
The poetry of Emily Dickinson is a superb testing ground for any literary analysis that emphasizes historical considerations. Indeed, while recent critical studies that attempt to "relate" Dickinson to her contemporary culture are interesting and informative, it would be more difficult to argue that any are particularly revelatory. I would suggest that the affinities such studies trace between the poet's culture and her text are of limited validity due to the implicit determinism of their method.1 The central problem with these critical texts (and, to a degree, also their merit) is their monologic ambition. Each assumes that literary text and history can be distinguished as foreground and background and that the devices through which the text refracts or reflects that contextual background are therefore easily observable for the critical analyst. As a result, these critical studies go on to find (by partially constructing) a series of historical master narratives that demonstrate how Dickinson's poetry was unequivocally determined by the culture...
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Barker, Wendy. Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor. Ad Feminam: Women and Literature, edited by Sandra M. Gilbert. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987, 214 p.
Provides a feminist analysis of the light and dark imagery in Dickinson's poems.
Bennett, Paula. "Beyond the Dip of Bell." In her Emily Dickinson: Woman Poet. Key Women Writers, series edited by Sue Roe, pp. 24-50. New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1990.
Studies Dickinson's apparent desire to exceed the conventional limits of poetry and language.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Emily Dickinson. Modern Critical Views. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1985, 204 p.
Provides a collection of previously published essays on Dickinson. The essays focus on such issues as Dickinson's cultural and literary influences, and her poetic style, themes, and techniques.
Bray, Paul. "Emily Dickinson as Visionary." Raritan 12, No. 1 (Summer 1992): 113-37.
Maintains that Dickinson experienced an "abnormally heightened mental or spiritual" awareness and examines the way she used her poetry to control this excess.
Cody, John. "A Plank In Reason." In Critical Essays on...
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