The Letters of Emily Dickinson

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Harvard University Press, 1986 - History - 999 pages
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Approximately 100 letters are published here for the first time, including almost all of the letters to Jane Humphrey and to Mrs. J. Howard Sweetser. The new material is even more extensive than it might appear, for many of the letters previously published were censored when first made public. This three-volume set, designed to accompany Mr. Johnson‚e(tm)s previously published work, the widely acclaimed Poems of Emily Dickinson, assembles all of Emily Dickinson‚e(tm)s letters (with the exception of letters presumably destroyed). The editors present the letters chronologically, with manuscript location, previous publication data, and notes for each letter, together with a general introduction, and biographical notes on recipients of letters.

The notes for each letter identify persons and events mentioned, and the source of literary allusions and quotations is given wherever known. Since Emily Dickinson rarely dated her letters after 1850, the dates for the most part must be conjectured from careful study of handwriting changes and from internal evidence of the letters. Of the 1,150 letters and prose fragments included in this outstanding edition, the text of about 800 derives from Dickinson autographs.

 

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Contents

HI Amherst is alive with fun this winter
73
1v we do not have much poetry
107
Much has occurred so much
331
v11 Perhaps you smile at
387
In A Letter always feels to
447
1x I find ecstasy in living
467
Nature is a Haunted House
536
x11 a Letter is a joy of Earth
807
Biographical Sketches of Recipients of Letters and
933
A Note on the Domestic Help
959
INDEX
977
INDEX OF POEMS
995
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts on December 10, 1830. Although one of America's most acclaimed poets, the bulk of her work was not published until well after her death on May 15, 1886. The few poems published in her lifetime were not received with any great fanfare. After her death, Dickinson's sister Lavinia found over 1,700 poems Emily had written and stashed away in a drawer -- the accumulation of a life's obsession with words. Critics have agreed that Dickinson's poetry was well ahead of its time. Today she is considered one of the best poets of the English language. Except for a year spent at Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in South Hadley, Dickinson spent her entire life in the family home in Amherst, Massachusetts. She never married and began to withdraw from society, eventually becoming a recluse. Dickinson's poetry engages the reader and requires his or her participation. Full of highly charged metaphors, her free verse and choice of words are best understood when read aloud. Dickinson's punctuation and capitalization, not orthodox by Victorian standards and called "spasmodic" by her critics, give greater emphasis to her meanings.

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