THE RECOGNITION OF EMILY DICKINSON by

THE RECOGNITION OF EMILY DICKINSON

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Emily Dickinson published but two poems in her lifetime, and after death it was many a moon before the Amherst Nun metamorphosed into America's Tenth Muse. The umble of essays here- a record of critical reaction from the 1890's to the present- estify that literary fashion can be quite as perverse as haute couture, and infinitely more mean spirited. Thomas Bailey Aldrich, a big wheel of the Genteel Tradition, Thumb-downed her glittery, gnomic verse as a ""disjecta membra"". England's Harold Monro in the `20's deplored the ""jottings of an idiotic schoolgirl"". Still, as the collection shows, bell-ringers began to be heard, e.g. Aiken and Hillyer, and once the New Critics arrived Emily was definitely ""in"". The appreciations from Tate, Blackmur, Winters and Austin Warren are brilliant and bulky; they alone vindicate the book, if vindication were needed, which it isn't. Inevitably, as in any historical accounting, along with the technical, philosophical and biographical points, a lot of silly stuff crops up too. But said Emily: ""The only secret people keep/Is Immortality"". Her ""secret"" seems assured.

Pub Date: April 29th, 1964
Publisher: Univ. of Michigan Press