Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

A major goal of Aileen L. Fisher and Olive Rabe in writing the biography We Dickinsons: The Life of Emily Dickinson as Seen Through the Eyes of Her Brother Austin seems to be to reclaim Dickinson’s life from the gloom in which words such as “recluse” and “eccentric” have often buried her. To achieve this end, the authors combed poems, letters, and autobiographies and wove the biography around the wonderful poems and sayings of the author herself. Thus the poet’s sprightly sense of humor, heard in her own words, dispels the shadows surrounding her life.

The authors use the point of view of Austin Dickinson, the poet’s brother, because the narrator was extremely close to his sister during their early and young adult years; then, because of his busy profession, civic involvement, and social life, Austin gradually became like the other people of Amherst—an outsider to Emily’s world, one who had difficulty understanding his sister’s growing seclusion. Because of his love for her, however, he tried to understand the reasons, which she found so difficult to communicate. His efforts to understand her become a bridge for the reader.

The narrative follows chronological order, beginning in 1840, when Emily Dickinson was ten years old and her brother William Austin was eleven. The biography ends with Emily’s death in 1886, in the springtime she loved and immortalized in her poems. The original text is decorated by Ellen...

(The entire section is 502 words.)