Book Club

The next selection for the Pember Book Club is Emily Dickinson, her letter to the world by Polly Longsworth dickinson


Emily Dickinson is a personality with a special attraction for adolescents. Her poems require little experience to scan, and once read retain their fascination by the elusive inscrutability of the message coupled with the simplicity of the images. Her own life enhances this interest. She was a woman who never seems to have grown old, and the mystery of her seclusion is totally romantic. Despite the absence of any specifically juvenile biographis of Emily Dickinson, teenagers are probably more familiar with the framework of her life than they are with many poets who have been popularized for the young. To fill the gap, if there truly is one, the author has managed very well in overcoming the difficulties involved. The thesis is that “”Emily Dickinson’s `letter to the world'”” was “”a testimonial of rejoicing to that incredible quality called life.”” Just how she bridged the paradox of her voluntary separation from the world to a concentration on the essences of life leads to endless speculation, and in this book theorizing has necessarily been limited. The way is left open, however, for readers to continue wondering. The known influences have been fairly presented here — her family ties, the people she looked to for guidance, the two men that she clearly fell in love with, her Boston upbringing, her education, her religious struggles. The book is smoothly written and very readable. Her poetry is excerpted where it is illustrative of the life of the poet; it is not analyzed separately. The only drawback to the otherwise meticulously careful narrative is the occasional dramatization of events that could have been portrayed by quoting letters.

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