Dickinson, the Modern Idiom

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Harvard University Press, Jan 1, 1981 - Poetry - 316 pages
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In this study of the poetry of Emily Dickinson, David Porter returns to Dickinsons actual manuscripts and written words, finding there a poet less formal, more forthright, and more modern than most readers have recognized. Porter constructs a primer for reading Dickinsons more difficult poems. He discovers and details the hidden patterns of her composing methods her grammatical defect, her lost referents and dropped inflections, her unique habits of revision. By concentrating on the manuscripts themselves, Porter helps us penetrate the print she did not authorize with its straight lines and capitals, its even margin and spacing, its stanzaic regularity, its visual definiteness." Coupled with his close reading of the texts, Porters conceptual originality and warm sympathy open up whole vistas in Dickinsons poetry. He is keenly sensitive not only to what is present in her work but also to what is absent. Indeed, he argues, absence and omissions constitute Dickinsons deepest originality. By concentrating on the absence that exists at every level of her life and work, as well as on the sharp physicality of her manuscripts, Porter is able to illuminate many mysteries of Dickinsons career.

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A Swarm of Mysteries
The Crucial Experience
Strangely Abstracted Images

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