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In this unusual biography, the product of seven years’ intensive study of Emily Dickinson, John Cody offers a sensitive, compassionate, and radically different interpretation of what made her the person and poet she came to be. By approaching her poems and letters—a rich though cryptic record of her feelings and fantasies—as psychological documents, he is able to trace the undercurrents that permeate her poetry and to integrate the external signs of psychic disturbance, such as her reclusehood, into a total view of her emotional development. He shows that the breakdown she experienced in her thirties generated insights into the dark corners of the mind and spirit that greatly increased the richness and power of her art. His readings illuminate the workings of a major creative personality as it deals with psychological catastrophe.