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Dickinson's Misery

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Dickinson's Misery

Dickinson's Misery

A THEORY OF LYRIC READING

Virginia Jackson

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY PRESS
PRINCETON AND OXFORD

Copyright © 2005 by Princeton University Press
Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540
In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 3 Market Place, Woodstock, Oxfordshire OX20 1SY

All Rights Reserved

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Jackson, Virginia Walker, date
Dickinson's misery : a theory of lyric reading / Virginia Jackson.
p.   cm.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
ISBN 0-691-11990-2 (acid-free paper) — ISBN 0-691-11991-0 (pbk. : acid-free paper)
1. Dickinson, Emily, 1830–1886—Criticism and interpretation—History—20th century. 2. Women and Literature—United States—History—19th Century. 3. Lyric poetry—History and criticism—Theory, etc. 4. Dickinson, Emily, 1830–1886—Technique. 5. Poetics—History—19th century. I. Title.

PS1541.Z5J33 2005
811′.4—dc22      2004052466

British Library Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available

Publication of this book has been aided by a grant from the Abraham and Rebecca Stein Faculty Publication Fund of New York University, Department of English.

This book has been composed in Palatino

Printed on acid-free paper. ∞

pup.princeton.edu

Printed in the United States of America

1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2

FOR SADYE AND WALKER
FOR YOPIE AND MARTIN

Contents

List of Illustrations

ix

Acknowledgments

xiii

Abbreviations

xvii

B
EFOREHAND

1

C
HAPTER
O
NE
Dickinson Undone

16

Bird-tracks

16

“When what they sung for …”

26

Lyric Context

31

Hybrid Poems

38

Dickinson Unbound

45

The Archive

53

C
HAPTER
T
WO
Lyric Reading

68

“My Cricket”

68

Lyric Alienation

92

Lyric Theory

100

Against (Lyric) Theory

109

C
HAPTER
T
HREE
Dickinson's Figure of Address

118

“The only poets”

118

Lyric Media

126

“The man who makes sheets of paper”

133

“You—there—I—here”

142

“The most pathetic thing I do”

158

C
HAPTER
F
OUR
“Faith in Anatomy”

166

Achilles' Head

166

The Interpretant

179

“No Bird—yet rode in Ether—”

185

The Queen's Place

196

C
HAPTER
F
IVE
Dickinson's Misery

204

“Misery, how fair”

204

“The Literature of Misery”

212

“This Chasm”

219

“And bore her safe away”

228

Conclusion

235

Notes

241

Selected Works Cited

275

Index

293

List of Illustrations

1.

The text that Dickinson penciled on Mary Warner's penmanship practice sheet is now Franklin's poem 1152, “The wind took up the northern things.”

2

2.

Emily Dickinson to Austin Dickinson, 17 October 1851.

5

3.

Emily Dickinson to Austin Dickinson, 17 October 1851.

12

4a.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, April 1862.

18

4b.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, April 1862.

19

5.

Emily Dickinson, opened envelope, around 1881.

21

6.

Emily Dickinson, opened envelope, around 1881.

23

7a.

Emily Dickinson, memo pages, around 1884.

34

7b.

Emily Dickinson, memo pages, around 1884.

35

8.

Cover page for the “Letter-Poem” section of the Dickinson Electronic Archives.

49

9.

Notebook of Georgina M. Wright. Mount Holyoke Female Seminary Class of 1852.

59

10.

Page family notebook, 1823–27.

61

11a.     

Emily Dickinson, around 1879.

65

11b.

Part of a wrapper for a half ream of John Hancock writing paper, 1870s.

66

12.

Mabel Loomis Todd's transcript of the note to Gertrude Vanderbilt that is now Franklin's poem 505.

72

13.

“Fascicle” copy of lines in fig. 12, lower half of page.

73

14a.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1866.

80

14b.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Wentworth Higginson, 1866.

81

15a.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Niles, 1883.

84

15b.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Niles, 1883.

85

15c.

Emily Dickinson to Thomas Niles, 1883.

86

16a.

Emily Dickinson to Mabel Loomis Todd, 1883.

88

16b.

Emily Dickinson to Mabel Loomis Todd, 1883.

89

17.

Cricket enclosed with fig. 16.

91

18.

Emily Dickinson to Samuel or Mary Bowles, 1861.

136

19.

Emily Dickinson to William Cowper Dickinson, around 1852.

141

20a.

From fascicle 33 (H 41).

143

20b.

From fascicle 33 (H 41).

144

21a.

From fascicle 34 (H 50).

148

21b.

From fascicle 34 (H 50).

149

22a.

Emily Dickinson, about 1867.

153

22b.

Emily Dickinson, about 1867.

153

23.

Flyleaf torn from Edward Dickinson's copy of Washington Irving's
Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon
.

161

24.

Emily Dickinson to Susan Gilbert Dickinson, around 1864.

164

25a.

Emily Dickinson, around 1870.

168

25b.

Emily Dickinson, around 1870.

169

26a.

Emily Dickinson, about 1868.

172

26b.

Emily Dickinson, about 1868.

173

27.

Emily Dickinson, about 1872.

175

28.

Emily Dickinson, about 1865.

186

29.

Emily Dickinson to “Master,” around 1861.

191

30.

Emily Dickinson to “Master,” second page of fig. 29.

194

31a.

Emily Dickinson, around 1867.

200

31b.

Verso of manuscript in fig. 31a.

201

32.

Emily Dickinson, fragment, around 1859.

202

33.

Detail of letter in fig. 29.

203

34.

Emily Dickinson, around 1870.

206

35.

Emily Dickinson, around 1865.

221

36.

Emily Dickinson to Susan Gilbert Dickinson, 1859.

229

37.

Joseph Cornell,
Chocolat Menier.
1952, mixed media construction.

237

38a.

Chocolate wrapper, 1870s.

238

38b.

Emily Dickinson, 1870s.

239

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