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Customer Review

on June 25, 2001
THE LIFE OF EMILY DICKINSON. By Richard B. Sewall. 821 pp. Cambridge, Massachusetts : Harvard University Press. First Harvard University Press paperback edition, 1994. ISBN 0-674-53080-2
Although I haven't yet finished reading Richard B. Sewalls mammoth saga, I fully expect to one day, and I've certainly read enough to realize that this is the single most important biography of Dickinson that we have, and unlikely ever to be bettered.
One thing that strikes me is Sewall's wonderful knack of bringing the various actors in this strange domestic drama vividly before us, and making them real and believable. The marvelous collection of illustrations in this book also help make the world of Amherst real to us.
The book is comprehensive and a mine of interesting facts about anything and everything to do with Emily Dickinson, and is happily free of the unctuousness of Thomas H. Johnson's earlier biography. Besides being richly illustrated with an abundance of photographs, it is also well-written, incredibly well-researched, and is a pleasure to read, being well-printed on excellent smooth paper.
In other words, Sewall's prize-winning biography is essential reading for all students of Dickinson, and is no doubt destined for a wide readership in its compact new paperback format which conveniently gives us Sewall's two volumes in one.
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