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Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds

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Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds Cover

ISBN13: 9780143119142
ISBN10: 0143119141
Condition: Student Owned
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Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

Review:

"Lives Like Loaded Guns....reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." The Washington Post

Review:

"Fascinating....[Gordon] shatters the Dickinson myth, revealing for the first time the twisted tale of how Dickinson came to be revered as 'a harmless homebody shut off from live to suffer and contemplate a disappointment in love.'...Brilliant literary detective work....Uncovering the mystery of why the mischievous, sensible creature who emerges from this biography hid from the world is where Gordon hits her stride...Gordon catches the poet's essence, allowing us the closest, most thrilling insights yet into the volcanic genius of Amherst." The Chicago Tribune

Review:

"The tale that Lyndall Gordon unveils in Lives Like Loaded Guns is so lurid, so fraught with forbidden passions, that readers may be disappointed to find that no actual gun goes off in this feverish account of the Dickinson family 'feuds.'...Gordon's suggestion that Dickinson may have been epileptic has already inspired debate among scholars....A vivid account." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The portrait of Emily Dickinson that emerges from this book is far more intriguing than the one I and no doubt many others have been carrying around in our head. Banished, the wisp of a girl in white flitting through the 19th-century gloom. Gone, the disappointed spinster with some ophthalmic abnormality. Erased, the 'harmless homebody...shut off from life.' And in their place a strange, seething creature filled with passion whose life was, in some fundamental sense, an exercise in control....It's what Gordon does with the poetry that is most compelling. A sensitive reader and a great admirer of Dickinson's work, Gordon is skillful at harnessing the poet's words in the service of her biography...I.t's a fascinating exercise in literary detection." The Boston Globe

Review:

"Emily Dickinson, the seemingly demure and buttoned-up American poet, comes wonderfully to life in Lyndall Gordon's telling biography. In Lives Like Loaded Guns, she entertains fresh interpretations of the poet's life....Viewing the poet through the lens of 19th-century spin doctors is fresh and provocative." USA Today

Review:

"This astonishing book, written with common sense and compassion, will do nothing less than revolutionize the way in which Dickinson is read for years to come." The Economist

Review:

"The great virtue of Gordon's biography is that it makes Dickinson the person — sister, friend, seducer, adversary — seem as scary her poems....Gordon is the author of biographies...that are distinguished by their sharpness of focus and economy of scale. Rather than competing for our attention with the author in question, Gordon tells the whole life by concentrating on what she judges to be the most potent aspect of it." The Nation

Review:

"Mesmerizing....You wonder what this woman [Emily Dickinson] might have made of the lawyers and court trials and furor that continued for decades over her poems, found after her death locked in a cherry wood chest in her room. Other truths were locked there, too; Gordon, admiringly and wisely, hands us a key." The Seattle Times

Synopsis:

"Lives Like Loaded Guns...reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." --The Washington Post

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

Synopsis:

"Lives Like Loaded Guns...reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." --The Washington Post

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

About the Author

Lyndall Gordon has written five major literary biographies, including Virginia Woolf: A Writer's Life, winner of the James Tait Black Prize for Biography. She is a senior research fellow at St.Hilda's College in Oxford, England.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

caddy compson, May 6, 2012 (view all comments by caddy compson)
If you haven't read much about Emily Dickinson in a long time, this book will give you information that is new to you, at least it was to me. Biographer Lyndall Gordon posits that a major reason for Dickinson's reclusiveness was that she suffered from epilepsy, and the family's reserved natures and pride would never permit this illness to ever be made public. Gordon presents a fairly good case for this possibility, but I want to have more information before I accept this as truth. Gordon lays out the background leading up to the affair between Dickinson's brother Austin and Mabel Loomis Todd, whose jealousy of Austin's wife Susan becomes a driving force throughout her life. This information is not new, but Gordon provides what seems to be an objective analysis of the feud between the two families.

Among the descriptions of the Dickinson family lie many of Dickinson's poems, and Gordon weaves them through some of her arguments in support of the epilepsy theory. It is scholarly written but can be read relatively quickly considering its length.
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geneyusatwork, September 2, 2011 (view all comments by geneyusatwork)
Book is well written and informative. Especially to those that are well versed in Dickinson literature. An excellent companion read is Austin and Mabel: The Amherst Affair and Love Letters of Austin Dickinson and Mabel L Todd. I recommend them as great reads.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Debra Miller, September 1, 2011 (view all comments by Debra Miller)
This book reveals that behind the prim and proper 1800s personae lies a family with all the complications, loves, illnesses, treacheries, forbidden lusts, feuds and relationships of a good drama! It's fine if you are only slightly familiar with Emily Dickinson's poetry - as I was - you learn a lot along the way. I love when non-fiction books read like novels, and this one succeeds.
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(2 of 3 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780143119142
Author:
Gordon, Lyndall
Publisher:
Penguin Books
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Biography-Literary
Edition Description:
Mass Market
Publication Date:
20110531
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
from 12
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Two 8-page b/w photo inserts; b/w art th
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
8.51 x 5.65 x 1.14 in 0.98 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z

Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds Used Trade Paper
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$10.00 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Penguin (Non-Classics) - English 9780143119142 Reviews:
"Review" by , "Lives Like Loaded Guns....reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory."
"Review" by , "Fascinating....[Gordon] shatters the Dickinson myth, revealing for the first time the twisted tale of how Dickinson came to be revered as 'a harmless homebody shut off from live to suffer and contemplate a disappointment in love.'...Brilliant literary detective work....Uncovering the mystery of why the mischievous, sensible creature who emerges from this biography hid from the world is where Gordon hits her stride...Gordon catches the poet's essence, allowing us the closest, most thrilling insights yet into the volcanic genius of Amherst."
"Review" by , "The tale that Lyndall Gordon unveils in Lives Like Loaded Guns is so lurid, so fraught with forbidden passions, that readers may be disappointed to find that no actual gun goes off in this feverish account of the Dickinson family 'feuds.'...Gordon's suggestion that Dickinson may have been epileptic has already inspired debate among scholars....A vivid account."
"Review" by , "The portrait of Emily Dickinson that emerges from this book is far more intriguing than the one I and no doubt many others have been carrying around in our head. Banished, the wisp of a girl in white flitting through the 19th-century gloom. Gone, the disappointed spinster with some ophthalmic abnormality. Erased, the 'harmless homebody...shut off from life.' And in their place a strange, seething creature filled with passion whose life was, in some fundamental sense, an exercise in control....It's what Gordon does with the poetry that is most compelling. A sensitive reader and a great admirer of Dickinson's work, Gordon is skillful at harnessing the poet's words in the service of her biography...I.t's a fascinating exercise in literary detection."
"Review" by , "Emily Dickinson, the seemingly demure and buttoned-up American poet, comes wonderfully to life in Lyndall Gordon's telling biography. In Lives Like Loaded Guns, she entertains fresh interpretations of the poet's life....Viewing the poet through the lens of 19th-century spin doctors is fresh and provocative."
"Review" by , "This astonishing book, written with common sense and compassion, will do nothing less than revolutionize the way in which Dickinson is read for years to come."
"Review" by , "The great virtue of Gordon's biography is that it makes Dickinson the person — sister, friend, seducer, adversary — seem as scary her poems....Gordon is the author of biographies...that are distinguished by their sharpness of focus and economy of scale. Rather than competing for our attention with the author in question, Gordon tells the whole life by concentrating on what she judges to be the most potent aspect of it."
"Review" by , "Mesmerizing....You wonder what this woman [Emily Dickinson] might have made of the lawyers and court trials and furor that continued for decades over her poems, found after her death locked in a cherry wood chest in her room. Other truths were locked there, too; Gordon, admiringly and wisely, hands us a key."
"Synopsis" by ,
"Lives Like Loaded Guns...reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." --The Washington Post

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

"Synopsis" by ,
"Lives Like Loaded Guns...reads like a fabulous detective story...[Gordon] takes us into undiscovered territory." --The Washington Post

In 1882, Emily Dickinson's brother, Austin, began an adulterous love affair with the accomplished and ravishing Mabel Todd, setting in motion a series of events that would forever change the lives of the Dickinson family. Award-winning biographer Lyndall Gordon tells the story of the feud that erupted-and that still continues today. Making unprecedented use of letters, diaries, and legal documents, Gordon proposes a groundbreaking new solution to the secret behind the poet's insistent seclusion, presenting a woman beyond her time who found love, spirituality, and immortality all on her own terms.

The first major biography of Dickinson in nearly ten years, Lives Like Loaded Guns is a highly acclaimed story of creative genius, illicit passion, and betrayal that will forever change the way we view one of America's most important literary figures.

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