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Recurring Women

Danny Karlin: Emily Dickinson

24 August 2000
The Poems of Emily DickinsonVariorum Edition 
edited by R.W. Franklin.
Harvard, 1654 pp., £83.50, October 1998, 9780674676220
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The Poems of Emily DickinsonReading Edition 
edited by R.W. Franklin.
Harvard, 692 pp., £19.95, September 1999, 0 674 67624 6
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Emily DickinsonMonarch of Perception 
by Domhnall Mitchell.
Massachusetts, 352 pp., £31.95, March 2000, 1 55849 226 7
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... Publication – is the Auction Of the Mind of Man – (#788) Editing EmilyDickinson’s poetry is a problem which continues to vex literary scholars and textual critics; meanwhile the publication, or dissemination, of Dickinson goes on apace. A trivial instance: the giant puppet of ...
29 October 1987
Emily​ Dickinson 
by Helen McNeil.
Virago, 208 pp., £3.50, April 1986, 0 86068 619 1
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Emily DickinsonLooking to Canaan 
by John Robinson.
Faber, 191 pp., £3.95, August 1986, 0 571 13943 4
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Emily DickinsonA Poet’s Grammar 
by Christanne Miller.
Harvard, 212 pp., £15.95, July 1987, 0 674 25035 4
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Emily DickinsonThe Poet on the Second Story 
by Jerome Loving.
Cambridge, 128 pp., £20, April 1987, 0 521 32781 4
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... Dryden to Hopkins and beyond, adjectives like ‘masculine’, ‘virile’, ‘manly’ were used freely as value-judgments in critical discourse. As Helen McNeil points out in her centenary study, EmilyDickinson entered the 20th century seeming to have written a series of ‘over-sensitive, coy, rather ill-disciplined poems’. Feminist critics have challenged this sexist view of her writing, and ...

Pomenvylopes

Mark Ford: Emily Dickinson’s Manuscripts

18 June 2014
The Gorgeous Nothings 
by Emily Dickinson.
New Directions, 255 pp., £26.50, October 2013, 978 0 8112 2175 7
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The Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping 
by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire.
Readux, 64 pp., £3, October 2013, 978 3 944801 00 1
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... to Bolts of Melody, a selection of more than six hundred poems culled from the vast trove of papers then in her possession. The papers were given to Bingham’s mother, Mabel Loomis Todd, by Dickinson’s sister Lavinia. (This is the collection now housed in Amherst.) Dickinson, Bingham explains, wrote on backs of brown-paper bags or of discarded bills, programmes, and invitations; on tiny scraps ...
25 January 2018
... I hope you may have an electrical absence, as life never loses its startlingness, however assailed. EmilyDickinson, letter to J.K. Chickering, autumn 1882 1. Technologies – are not abrupt – Though Pole-vaults may appear – The lever bends a longer spell Than Morals – in a Fire And clatters off the ...
4 May 2016
... The Savile Row swagger and the nonchalant pose! He’s who he isn’t and he makes sure it shows. I’m Nobody! Who are you? I’m thinking, what would mother do? And what would Kafka if he knew? EmilyDickinson was Nobody, too! I’d say the day looks like there’s nothing new. It’s simply someone the sky is talking to. Sprinklers on Central Park’s Great Lawn are hissing mist, A smell ...

Emily​ v. Mabel

Susan Eilenberg: Emily Dickinson

30 June 2011
Lives like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson​ and Her Family’s Feuds 
by Lyndall Gordon.
Virago, 491 pp., £9.99, April 2011, 978 1 84408 453 1
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DickinsonSelected Poems and Commentaries 
by Helen Vendler.
Harvard, 535 pp., £25.95, September 2010, 978 0 674 04867 6
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... One need not be a Chamber – to be Haunted – One need not be a House – The Brain has Corridors – surpassing Material Place – ‘All men say “What” to me,’ EmilyDickinson wrote in a letter to Thomas Wentworth Higginson. She certainly mystified Higginson. He never entirely overcame his uneasiness about her odd, disjunctive words and bewildering epistolary tones and ...
21 February 1980
Gya/Ecology: The Metaethics of Radical Feminism 
by Mary Daly.
Women’s Press, 485 pp., £8.95, November 1980, 0 7043 2829 1
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The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the 19th Century 
by Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar.
Yale, 719 pp., £15.75, October 1980, 0 300 02286 7
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Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes 
by Margaret Dickie Uroff.
Illinois, 235 pp., £6.95, November 1980, 0 252 00734 4
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Women Writing and Writing about Women 
edited by Mary Jacobus.
Croom Helm, 201 pp., £9.50, October 1980, 0 85664 745 4
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... is necessary to know why we may be despised and exactly how contempt may be empowered to destroy us. To acquire such knowledge we have to find our own language and make it as exact as possible. When EmilyDickinson wrote of ‘infection in the sentence’, she had in mind both the constraining judicial sentence of masculine language, from which ‘we may inhale Despair’, and the germinating ...

Jerusalem

Penelope Fitzgerald

3 December 1981
Me Again: Uncollected Writings of Stevie Smith 
edited by Jack Barbera and William McBrien.
Virago, 359 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 9780860682172
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... is invented when reticence goes over to the attack, and becomes mystification. If you visited Blake and were told not to sit on a certain chair because it was for the spirit of Michelangelo, or if EmilyDickinson handed you a single flower, you needed time to find out how far the mystification was meant to keep you at a distance, and to give you something to talk about when you got home ...

The Divine Miss P.

Elaine Showalter

11 February 1993
Sex, Art and American Culture 
by Camille Paglia.
Viking, 256 pp., £16.99, March 1993, 0 670 84612 0
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... radicals, date rape, the aesthetic evolution of Madonna. The self-styled genius and warrior woman seized public attention with her first book, Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to EmilyDickinson (1990), a sweeping, Strindbergian analysis of culture as the war of the sexes. But what really made her famous were her attacks on feminism and academia, coupled with her paeans to pop ...
7 September 1995
The Poems of John Dryden: Vol. I, 1649-1681; Vol. II, 1682-1685 
edited by Paul Hammond.
Longman, 551 pp., £75, February 1995, 0 582 49213 0
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... Poetry, it must be said, has become very finicky in our time. Housman thought it impossible to do, except that very occasionally it turned out to be there. EmilyDickinson would not have agreed with that at all. She threw herself into it, as if into a clear river on a hot day. The impression of relief and ecstasy in her first lines and couplets is remarkable, but she ...

Character Building

Peter Campbell

9 June 1994
Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernity 
by Jerome McGann.
Princeton, 196 pp., £25, July 1993, 0 691 06985 9
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Letters from the People 
by Lee Friedlander.
Cape, 96 pp., £75, August 1993, 9780224032957
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Margins and Marginality 
by Evelyn Tribble.
Virginia, 194 pp., $35, December 1993, 0 8139 1472 8
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... punning words of Robert Carlton Brown, a maker of what on the evidence of McGann’s examples must be handmade books of exemplary jokiness). Unreadability, McGann says, can be a virtue. The poems of EmilyDickinson, unpublished in her lifetime, test editorial practice. McGann’s account of them is an example of his methods. The manuscripts Dickinson left, many gathered in booklets of a few leaves ...

Short Cuts

John Lanchester: Who’s Afraid of the Library of America?

19 June 2008
... The Library has filled its mission admirably and most of America’s acknowledged great writers are represented. (The omissions smack of rows over royalties and copyright: no Ernest Hemingway, no EmilyDickinson, no Marianne Moore.) Some have even argued that the brief has been stretched too far. Wilson’s canonisation came after those of Charles Brockden Brown, H.P. Lovecraft, James Weldon ...

On Roy Fisher

August Kleinzahler

28 June 2017
... to Buffalo, Toronto, Ottawa, and on ‘a road trip east from Buffalo heading for a reading at Colgate, via such places as Ithaca, Ovid, Geneva, Skaneateles, Schenectady. Then, deviously, another in EmilyDickinson country and a bus ride to Boston,’ where he fell ill, as one often does on these junkets, but not so ill as to be unable to fly back to Chicago ‘stuffed with analgesics from Denise ...
4 August 1988
Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 400 pp., £14.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3018 0
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Selected Poems of Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
by Margaret Forster.
Chatto, 330 pp., £12.95, June 1988, 0 7011 3311 2
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The Poetical Works of Robert Browning: Vol. III 
edited by Ian Jack and Rowena Fowler.
Oxford, 542 pp., £60, June 1988, 0 19 812762 6
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The Complete Works of Robert Browning: Vol. VIII 
edited by Roma King and Susan Crowl.
Ohio/Baylor University, 379 pp., £47.50, September 1988, 9780821403808
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... rather unfairly refers to as ‘large self-worshippers’. They did not exactly worship but explored themselves: in a sense, they became themselves. A process especially important for women writers. Emily Brontë was in her own way a self-dramatiser, Charlotte a self-esteemer. Her example was easier to follow, much more influential. When Aurora Leigh was published in 1857, reviewers pointed out a ...
2 February 1984
Come aboard and sail away 
by John Fuller.
Salamander, 48 pp., £6, October 1983, 0 907540 37 6
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Children in Exile 
by James Fenton.
Salamander, 24 pp., £5, October 1983, 0 907540 39 2
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‘The Memory of War’ and ‘Children in Exile’: Poems 1968-1983 
by James Fenton.
Penguin, 110 pp., £1.95, October 1983, 0 14 006812 0
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Some Contemporary Poets of Britain and Ireland: An Anthology 
edited by Michael Schmidt.
Carcanet, 184 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 0 85635 469 4
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Nights in the Iron Hotel 
by Michael Hofmann.
Faber, 48 pp., £4, November 1983, 0 571 13116 6
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The Irish Lights 
by Charles Johnston and Kyril Fitzlyon.
Bodley Head, 77 pp., £4.50, September 1983, 0 370 30557 4
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Fifteen to Infinity 
by Ruth Fainlight.
Hutchinson, 62 pp., £5.95, September 1983, 0 09 152471 7
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Donald Davie and the Responsibilities of Literature 
edited by George Dekker.
Carcanet, 153 pp., £9.95, November 1983, 9780856354663
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... people without their having to respond to it in the context of poets and writers. Religion and other activities used to concentrate an audience by figuring in a non-literary context, and Blake or EmilyDickinson used religion, as they used the context of childhood responses, to appeal directly to an audience over the head, as it were, of literature. Their communication seems to short-circuit it ...

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