Changing Rapture: Emily Dickinson's Poetic Development

Changing Rapture: Emily Dickinson's Poetic Development

by Aliki Barnstone
     
 
Aliki Barnstone challenges the critical commonplace that Emily Dickinson's poetry did not change and evolve over the course of her career as a poet. She argues that this notion of her lack of development, while it contributes the established myth of the isolated and timeless Dickinson, has tended to diminish our appreciation of her as a poet and thinker, whose work is

Overview

Aliki Barnstone challenges the critical commonplace that Emily Dickinson's poetry did not change and evolve over the course of her career as a poet. She argues that this notion of her lack of development, while it contributes the established myth of the isolated and timeless Dickinson, has tended to diminish our appreciation of her as a poet and thinker, whose work is both an innovative artistic achievement and a cultural commentary. Throughout the book, Barnstone contextualizes Dickinson's evolving spiritual and poetic development within nineteenth-century American culture.

Barnstone identifies four major phases in Dickinson's development, which are marked by her struggle against the Calvinist tradition in which she was raised and her growing involvement with Transcendentalism. In the first phase, Dickinson critiques Calvinism and Sentimentalism through satire. In the second, intensely prolific period, she experiences an intellectual crisis, in which she masters the Calvinist theology that vexes her through a process Barnstone terms "self-conversion." In the third phase, the poet's work develops from a struggle with Calvinist self-annihilation and despair to a reworking of Emerson's Transcendental, exalted discovery of the self.

Barnstone concludes her volume with an exploration of the recent debates over the textual problems in Dickinson's work, bringing them to bear on the canon of the poet's late work, which consists largely of letter-poems. Her whole life, Dickinson grappled with death, loss of loved ones, and the afterlife; at the end of her career, she developed her own intimate and relational form of literary immortality in letters.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781584655343
Publisher:
University Press of New England
Publication date:
07/31/2007
Pages:
212
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Sandra M. Gilbert
"In CHANGING RAPTURE Aliki Barnstone has given us a moving, incisive--and often, indeed, rapturous--account of Emily Dickinson's remarkable spiritual and aesthetic metamorphoses. Her concluding discussion of the innovative letter-poems that have increasingly engaged the attention of Dickinson scholars is especially powerful in its exploration of the way in which, paradoxically, toward the end of the poet's life, "when she was most withdrawn from fact-to-face physical contact with society10:56:30 A...she moved her art out of the private production of the fascicles and fully into the social production of the letter-poems." Beautifully written, scrupulously researched, and lucidly argued, Barnstone's book will be essential reading for all who are fascinated by the mysteries of Dickinson's art."
Sandra M. Gilbert, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of California, Davis

Meet the Author

ALIKI BARNSTONE is a poet who has written Blue Earth (2004) and Wild With It (Sheep Meadow Press, 2002); translator, and scholar. She is Professor of American Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and editor of The Calvinist Roots of the Modern Era (UPNE, 1997).

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