The definitive edition of Emily Dickinson’s correspondence, expanded and revised for the first time in over sixty years.
Emily Dickinson was a letter writer before she was a poet. And it was through letters that she shared prose reflections—alternately humorous, provocative, affectionate, and philosophical—with her extensive community. While her letters often contain poems, and some letters consist entirely of a single poem, they also constitute a rich genre all their own. Through her correspondence, Dickinson appears in her many facets as a reader, writer, and thinker; social commentator and comedian; friend, neighbor, sister, and daughter.
The Letters of Emily Dickinson is the first collected edition of the poet’s correspondence since 1958. It presents all 1,304 of her extant letters, along with the small number available from her correspondents. Almost 300 are previously uncollected, including letters published after 1958, letters more recently discovered in manuscript, and more than 200 “letter-poems” that Dickinson sent to correspondents without accompanying prose. This edition also redates much of her correspondence, relying on records of Amherst weather patterns, historical events, and details about flora and fauna to locate the letters more precisely in time. Finally, updated annotations place Dickinson’s writing more firmly in relation to national and international events, as well as the rhythms of daily life in her hometown. What emerges is not the reclusive Dickinson of legend but a poet firmly embedded in the political and literary currents of her time.
Dickinson’s letters shed light on the soaring and capacious mind of a great American poet and her vast world of relationships. This edition presents her correspondence anew, in all its complexity and brilliance.
A thrilling read that wholly immerses us in Dickinson’s world. It seems Dickinson thought in poetry, as the characteristic cadence of her poems recurs in the letters themselves. Especially fascinating is the continuity of her long flirtatious argument with God, taken up in correspondence with her school friends, with eminent public figures, and in the poems she enclosed. Miller and Mitchell present a masterfully curated abundance. To read it is to encounter a mind on fire.
Drawing deeply on more than three decades of editorial scholarship, Miller and Mitchell give us a Dickinson both inseparable from her own time and indispensable to ours. Meticulously edited from archival sources and annotated with immense care, this work overwhelmingly shows that both Dickinson’s poems and her letters issue from a singular impetus: to seek in language—often formally experimental, always compelling—new ways to express the strangeness and beauty of our experiences as finite beings in the world.
This brilliantly expansive and comprehensive collection of Emily Dickinson’s letters shows us just how deeply she was embedded in her social world. Here we see, in Dickinson’s own words, a writer exchanging ideas with a wide circle of friends and family members, honing her abilities as a poet, and grappling with a nation torn by war over slavery and race. In these letters, we see the life of a genius unfold.
The Letters of Emily Dickinson provides a vital window into not only the poet’s inner life and art, but also her surprisingly wide social world. Miller and Mitchell, two of our foremost Dickinson scholars, have produced a fresh, definitive edition for the twenty-first century, tracking the relationship of poems to letters and precisely locating these treasures in their time and place.
- 976 pages
- 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
- Belknap Press
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