THE LONG SHADOW: Emily Dickinson's Tragic Poetry by Clark Griffith

THE LONG SHADOW: Emily Dickinson's Tragic Poetry

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That Emily Dickinson was not the Amherst Nun, the Ecstatic Recluse or the Dewy-Eyed Girl popular opinion assumes she was, but rather an embodiment of Existential dread and despair on the one hand and a sort of Tennessee Williams heroine on the other, is the general impression one gathers from this commotion-creating study. The author's skin-close reading of Emily's most difficult and often most distraught poems makes telling points and psychological patterns. And though through a good part of the proceedings the style is strained, almost strident, the thesis that Emily fell ferociously in love with God, and then convinced He spurned her, sank into that upstairs bedroom- study full of self-isolation, even self-immolation, makes for a commanding commentary. The author stresses her aesthetic kinship with Melville and not with the usual Blake or Whitman; he notes the ironies beneath her sunny affirmations; he strips her time-ridden world, her masks, her metaphysics. What is death? Why is death? What is it like to die? These are the real questions which froze that fearful, frustrated and -since the author throws him in too- Heideggerian soul.

Publisher: Princeton Univ. Press