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The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson - Softcover

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9780316184137: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson
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This comprehensive and authoritative collection of all 1,775 poems by Emily Dickinson is an essential volume for all lovers of American literature.
Only eleven of Emily Dickinson's poems were published prior to her death in 1886; the startling originality of her work doomed it to obscurity in her lifetime. Early posthumous published collections -- some of them featuring liberally "edited" versions of the poems -- did not fully and accurately represent Dickinson's bold experiments in prosody, her tragic vision, and the range of her intellectual and emotional explorations. Not until the 1955 publication of The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, a three-volume critical edition compiled by Thomas H. Johnson, were readers able for the first time to assess, understand, and appreciate the whole of Dickinson's extraordinary poetic genius.
This book, a distillation of the three-volume Complete Poems, brings together the original texts of all 1,775 poems that Emily Dickinson wrote.
"With its chronological arrangement of the poems, this volume becomes more than just a collection; it is at the same time a poetic biography of the thoughts and feelings of a woman whose beauty was deep and lasting." --San Francisco Chronicle

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Review:
Emily Dickinson proved that brevity can be beautiful. Only now is her complete oeuvre--all 1,775 poems--available in its original form, uncorrupted by editorial revision, in one volume. Thomas H. Johnson, a longtime Dickinson scholar, arranged the poems in chronological order as far as could be ascertained (the dates for more than 100 are unknown). This organization allows a wide-angle view of Dickinson's poetic development, from the sometimes-clunky rhyme schemes of her juvenilia, including valentines she wrote in the early 1850s, to the gloomy, hell-obsessed writings from her last years. Quite a difference from requisite Dickinson entries in literary anthologies: "There's a certain Slant of light," "Wild Nights--Wild Nights!" and "I taste a liquor never brewed."

The book was compiled from Thomas H. Johnson's hard-to-find variorum from 1955. While some explanatory notes would have been helpful, it's a prodigious collection, showcasing Dickinson's intractable obsession with nature, including death. Poem 1732, which alludes to the deaths of her father and a onetime suitor, illustrates her talent:

My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me,

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

The musicality of her punctuation and the outright elegance of her style--akin to Christina Rossetti's hymns, although not nearly so religious--rescue the poems from their occasional abstruseness. The Complete Poems is especially refreshing because Dickinson didn't write for publication; only 11 of her verses appeared in magazines during her lifetime, and she had long-resigned herself to anonymity, or a "Barefoot-Rank," as she phrased it. This is the perfect volume for readers wishing to explore the works of one of America's first poets.

About the Author:
R. W. Franklin was Director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. He is the recipient of the Emily Dickinson International Society's Award for Outstanding Contribution.

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  • PublisherBack Bay Books
  • Publication date1976
  • ISBN 10 0316184136
  • ISBN 13 9780316184137
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages770
  • EditorThomas H. Johnson
  • Rating
    4.27 avg rating
    ( 96,702 ratings by Goodreads )

Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780316184144: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

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ISBN 10:  ISBN 13:  9780316184144
Publisher: Little,Brown and Company, 1960
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9780571108640: The Complete Poems

Faber ..., 1976
Softcover

9780003551303: The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson

Little..., 1960
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9780316184410: Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson Controlled Release

Back B..., 1997
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