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Original Essays | June 20, 2014

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My Emily Dickinson


My Emily Dickinson Cover

ISBN13: 9780811216838
ISBN10: 0811216837
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

With exacting rigor and wit, Howe pulls Dickinson free of all the sterile and stuffy belle-of-Amherst cotton wool and shows the poet in touch with elemental forces of nature, and as a prophet in all her radical zealotry and poetic glory. Her Emily Dickinson is a unique American genius, a demon lover of poetry—no neurasthenic spider artist. Howe draws into her discussion Browning, Wuthering Heights, the Civil War, "Master," the great Puritan preachers, captivity narratives, Shakespeare, and phantom lovers. As she chases away narrow and reductive feminist readings of the poet, Howe finds instead a radically powerful and true feminism at work in Dickinson, focusing the whole on that heart-stopping poem "My Life had stood—a Loaded Gun."

A remarkable and passionate poet-on-poet engagement, My Emily Dickinson frees a great poet from the fetters of being read as a special female neurotic, and sets her against a fiery open sky where "Perception of an object means loosing and losing it...only Mutability certain." My Emily Dickinson won The Before Columbus Foundation Book Award.

Book News Annotation:

Poet Howe originally published this monograph in 1985, when, according to Eliot Weinberger in this reissue's new preface, the complexities of Emily Dickinson's writing "tended to be lost" to focus on the poet's neuroses and spinster life. Howe considers the intent of Dickinson's unusual capitalization and punctuation, responds to other critical interpretations, and frames her work in context to that of other figures including Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Jonathan Edwards. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (


"Starts off as a manifesto but becomes richer and more suggestive as it develops."—The New York Sun

About the Author

Susan Howe was born in Boston, on June 10, 1937, and grew up in Cambridge, MA.

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The Instant Librarian, December 4, 2011 (view all comments by The Instant Librarian)
A look at the enigmatic poet through the lens of a masterful poet in her own right. Should we expect anything less than luminous from Susan Howe? This critical exploration of Dickinson's poetry and life steers clear of the tiresome myth-making to which so many biographies and pseudo-critical works on Dickinson fall prey. Its slim size belies a wealth of wide-ranging reflection on the poet's influences and intentions, locating her within her own life and times as a poet of great genius and innovation. If, as Howe writes, "every poet is salted with fire," then this book is doubly ablaze.
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Product Details

Howe, Susan
New Directions Publishing Corporation
Preface by:
Weinberger, Eliot
Weinberger, Eliot
erger, Eliot
Weinberger, Eliot
Poets, American
Women Authors
Poets, American -- 19th century.
Literary Criticism : General
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

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Product details 160 pages New Directions Publishing Corporation - English 9780811216838 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , "Starts off as a manifesto but becomes richer and more suggestive as it develops."—The New York Sun
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