Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries 1St Edition Edition

3.8 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674048676
ISBN-10: 0674048679
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$17.88 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
Buy new On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
$33.74 On clicking this link, a new layer will be open
More Buying Choices
29 New from $21.90 29 Used from $6.30 2 Collectible from $30.00
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

The Amazon Book Review
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
$33.74 FREE Shipping. Only 6 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries
  • +
  • Melville's Short Novels (Norton Critical Editions)
Total price: $51.69
Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Vendler stands among America's most respected critics. This big book of informed, sometimes witty, always thoughtful and determinedly accessible commentaries follows the model of Vendler's The Art of Shakespeare's Sonnets; 150 poems by Emily Dickinson appear alongside essays explaining how to read each one. Vendler (a professor at Harvard) explains Dickinson's intricate, fast-changing metaphors, her emotional extremes, her metrical oddities, and her frequent dissent from organized religion, "the unbeliever commenting on the deluded faithful." Contrary to stereotype, the Dickinson here is less eccentric than deeply ambitious, unwilling to compromise in her search for the right words, the right work of art, the right spirit of life: beneath one late, flirtatious poem's "mischievous play... lies the yearning of the unique Dickinson for a natural companion resembling herself." The collection anticipates readers who will open it up at random, read through at leisure, or else search for a specific poem: it may overwhelm those who attempt to read it straight through. Yet that depth, that concentration on single poem after single poem, is one source of its strength: riddling, idiosyncratic, sometimes coy, and extraordinarily intelligent, Dickinson's poems respond almost ideally to the analysis Vendler is best equipped to give.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


The best close reader of poems to be found on the literary pages. (Seamus Heaney)

There is just no way of summarizing a critic as subtle and meticulous as [Vendler]. (Marilyn Butler)

Emily Dickinson is certainly never going to be an easy poet to understand, but her dense, poignant lyrics are now a lot more accessible to ordinary readers thanks to Vendler's unravelings. If you're going to read Dickinson, this "selected poems and commentary" is the place to start. (Michael Dirda Washington Post 2010-09-09)

Emily Dickinson is the sorcerer's stone. Her poetry contains, no, is, the most essential, passionate use of English and the most essential, passionate connection between the English language and nature (our nature, birds and bees nature, God's nature)...Dickinson's spare use of words are just the tip of her iceberg; the waters below contain so many secrets that it truly helps to have a guide to the meter, the myth, the thread of dreams. [And] if you're going to hire a guide, you may as well have the best, and Vendler is the best. (Susan Salter Reynolds Los Angeles Times 2010-09-12)

This book takes 150 of [Emily Dickinson's] poems and devotes a two- or three-page chapter to each. If you have a favorite poem, you look it up and Vendler will walk you through it as if you've never read it before. It's like reading the poem in italics. (Billy Collins New York Post 2010-10-02)

Both casual readers and scholars of Dickinson alike will want to purchase it. (Stacy Russo Library Journal 2010-10-15)

If it's been a while since you last sat down with Dickinson, now is a great time: Helen Vendler's new book, Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries, is both an anthology (it contains 150 of Dickinson's nearly 1,800 poems) and an interpretive introduction, with a short essay following and explaining each poem. Vendler is almost certainly the best poetry critic in America, and she's hit upon a great way of writing about poetry. Reading each poem, followed by Vendler's commentary, it feels like you're in your own private poetry class. (Josh Rothman Boston Globe 2010-10-25)

[A] superb and invigorating new selection of 150 poems and probing commentaries...The poet that Vendler finds in these poems is an ambitious and sometimes magisterial artist of extraordinary range and verbal control. Vendler's comprehensive reassessment of Dickinson's achievement seems to me the most challenging new reading of Dickinson since the poet Adrienne Rich's remarkable essay "Vesuvius at Home" (1975)...What Vendler, perhaps the most skilled and accomplished close reader of lyric poetry of her generation, adds to this picture is a renewed attention to Dickinson's deliberate and consummate artistry, along with a fresh way to read cryptic poems that may seem, superficially, to have little to do with the "maelstrom" of human emotions. (Christopher Benfey New York Review of Books 2010-11-25)

The reigning doyenne of American poetry criticism is a close reader par excellence. [Vendler] loves her favorite poets unstintingly. She seems to think and feel in their language--to think and feel through their work, as through a membrane. Her Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries plays exactly to her strengths, as did her 1997 edition of Shakespeare's sonnets...What I like best about Vendler's Dickinson is its can-do attitude. Yes, it assures the reader, the poem says what you think it says: trust your own eyes, experience, and heart...She doesn't try to quash the mystery of the poems; she notes their ambiguities but by and large leaves those to do their work--and leaves us closer to a canonical poet whom we are still only coming to know. (Lorin Stein Harper's 2010-12-01)

Dickinson continues to entertain and enlighten me. Vendler manages to clarify and illuminate Dickinson's poetry without oversimplifying the work of a complex mind. Her succinct but astute readings of Emily Dickinson's poetry are little kernels of insight into a wickedly keen poetic mind. (Hillary Kelly New Republic 2010-12-22)

This year Helen Vendler published her own selection of Dickinson's verse along with astute commentary. After reading Dickinson's fifty or seventy-five best poems you realize that few poets have written this many poems of this much merit. Dickinson's manuscripts show that she left behind multiple variations on words and phrases, sometimes as many as a dozen, without favoring a particular one. Vendler points out moments when Dickinson wrote one word, only to bracket it and replace it with another. Not since Vendler's meticulous commentary on Shakespeare's sonnets has a finer book of close-readings been published. (Jeannie Vanasco Lapham's Quarterly 2010-12-29)

What Vendler did for Shakespeare's sonnets, she has done again for Dickinson's poems, demonstrating her refined skill and rare gift for loving attentiveness. When our age of hurry and perspiration threatens close reading, Vendler helps us slow down--way down until meter, word choice, punctuation, metaphors, tone, and allusion matter. She deftly reveals that form is as much a carrier of meaning as content. (Christopher Benson First Things 2010-12-21)

These commentaries on a selection of Dickinson's poems are best summed up in one word: brilliant. Skeptics who might be inclined to question whether anyone has anything new to say about Dickinson's oeuvre nearly 125 years after her death will find that the answer to that question is a resounding yes. Vendler manages to offer original, insightful observations about Dickinson's humor, her pain, her metaphysical abstractions, and her syntactical inversions. (D. D. Knight Choice 2011-03-01)

Vendler's commentaries are enlightening and enjoyable revelations of Dickinson's often elusive meanings; she is also a master of the technical and devotes consistent attention to the poet's metrical skills and innovations. (Maurice Earls Dublin Review of Books 2011-03-01)

This new book is as meticulous as Vendler's commentary on Shakespeare's Sonnets (1997). As well as their mysterious inner lives, these are poets who share an ability to compress the maximum force into the fewest words. In Dickinson's case, her manuscripts show that she left behind multiple variations on words and phrases, sometimes as many as a dozen, without any indication of favoring one over the others. She claimed that her closest companion was her lexicon. (Jeannie Vanasco Times Literary Supplement 2011-05-13)

Helen Vendler provides clear commentary, uncluttered by fashionable and hyphenated literary theory, on 150 poems by one of the most enigmatic American poets. (Elizabeth Hoover Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 2011-04-24)

New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; 1St Edition edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674048679
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674048676
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,500 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
33 comments| 108 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on March 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
77 comments| 41 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
22 comments| 31 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 9, 2010
Format: Hardcover|Verified Purchase
0Comment| 9 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Most Recent Customer Reviews

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries