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My Emily Dickinson Paperback – January 3, 1995

4.0 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Howe's ear almost becomes Dickinson's, hearing each musical phrase and its hesitancy as fierce intention and mindful resistance. Her reading is alarming, and thrilling, in its implications for academic scholarship. It will change our perceptions of Dickinson's language utterly."
-Kathleen Fraser, Editor, HOW(ever)

"My Emily Dickinson is one of our seminal works of creative scholarship. It bears much the same relationship to a consciousness of American language and speech as Williams' In the American Grain did in its own time. Howe's book can be viewed as a tracing of a spiritual impulse from Jonathan Edwards through Emily Dickinson to the present. It is at once a deeply insightful feminist document and a reaction against superficial feminist readings of Dickinson's work."
-Michael Palmer, author of First Figure

About the Author

Susan Howe is the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Western Borders, Pythagorean Silence, and Defenestration of Prague. She was the recipient of the American Books Award for Poetry from the Before Columbus Foundation in 1981. Born in Boston, Howe now lives with her husband and son in Guilford, Connecticut; she has a grown daughter who is a painter in New York City.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books; First Edition edition (January 3, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0938190520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938190523
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,067,025 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a serious and personal literary study of Dickinson's work by a scholar and fellow poet who appreciates both the art and the attitude of one of her American literary forebears.
Howe points out how Dickinson's poetry has been overlooked in light of her character and biography. It seems that in the 19th century, it was remarkable for a woman to be a poet at all, let alone write original, rebellious, and quite modern poetry. Hence, the work itself, though enjoyed by schoolchildren all over America, has been little understood.
Delving into Dickinson's reading lists, her notes and letters, and analyzing a few poems, Howe explores the workings of an intricate mind. She uncovers connections between Dickinson and the Brownings, the Brontes, and James Fenimore Cooper, and she shows how seemingly submissive, soft spoken poetic lines are actually rebellious and even at times angry. What Howe does not do is confuse the image of "The Belle of Amhearst" with the vital workings of the mind of this remarkable woman.
This book is an enjoyable read filled with Howe's admiration for her artistic predecessor and written in straightforward language, not literary jargon--a tribute from one poet to another. For anyone who enjoys Emily Dickinson's poetry, it is not to be missed.
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Format: Paperback
I have been pretty much obsessed with Emily Dickinson since 1980, and have enjoyed reading many treatments of her life and her poems, while enduring many other books about her. She is quite a mystery, and shall always remain so, becoming the kind of woman and poet that each generation seems to need. I did not like this author's prose style, which seemed to me to have many sentence fragments and many abrupt transitions which did not seem logical. However, it does contain one of the best meditations on Emily's literary and theological influences, including the preacher Jonathan Edwards, and the Brownings, and the Brontes, and Shakespeare. For that reason, it is worth reading if you care about the Belle of Amherst at all. I found myself drawn to her poetry from high school on, but over the decades, becoming much more fascinated with her life choices and experiences. We will never know for sure how many poems are autobiographical, how many actually describe her take on the experiences of her small but intense social circle, and how many are pure fiction. What an impact she has made on the literary world, by living the life of a fairly affluent New England spinster who did not get out much. That is endlessly fascinating to me. Unfortunately it is not the thrust of this volume. My recommendation is to start with Richard Sewell's huge biography of Emily from the 1970's. It covers the life AND the poetry in a reasonable and accessible manner. Some think Emily a secular nun, some think her a deeply closeted lesbian and/or incest victim, some feel she had many love affairs but was discrete about them. Some think her insane, some believe her to be the sanest of us all. Some find her an early feminist, and others see her as an oppressed woman.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
There are few critical books that I find myself returning to over and over like I do this one. Susan Howe opens up her reading of Dickinson to us. It in fact is almost like Howe allows us to slip into the room and listen to the conversation between these two poets, SH herself and E Dickinson. Here, Howe is reflecting on the nature of writing, history, self and other. The reading of Dickinson's work is open and opening, thus My Emily Dickinson is a text that is alive and inviting further reflection, reaction and study by the new and newer generations of Dickinson scholars. Beautifully and attentively written, this is a treasure.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Howe's short book is an illuminating take on one of my favorite poets, focusing in particular on a careful reading of "My Life Stood---a Loaded Gun." Howe does an excellent job of showing the poetic and other influences on Dickinson, especially the Brownings, Shakespeare (King Lear in particular), Fenimore Cooper, and Jonathan Edwards. Sometimes, Howe lets her own poetic rhetoric carry her away into near intelligibility, but I simply take that as her excitement and appreciation for what Dickinson was able to do. If you appreciate Dickinson, give this a read. If you are not sure, definitely read this work of one poet reading another.
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It's the book, the author, what's said in it...that is absolutely priceless. Susan Howe does a close reading on Emily Dickinson, her poetry and other poets and authors of her time - relating it historically, politically, as well as spiritually. And I already loved Emily D. Now she lives in me.
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Susan Howe gives stellar study of Emily Dickinson. Though it's been out for many years, this is my first reading. As poet and nonfiction writer, I shall read this book many times. Emily is one of my heroes, and Susan Howe's research more than information -- it brings Emily Dickinson to life in this millenium.
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terrifically interesting for all its historical gestures and the author's obviously serious, quasi-academic intensity. Yet how can a book about Dickinson that does want to bring the varied historical sources together and to bear on its subject not include reference to {suddenly I'm blanking out both poet and her astonishing essay that builds on and around Dickinson's jolting line, "my life had stood a loaded gun", and its feminist ramifications} ????
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