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Posted July 25, 2004
This short but charming book from Amherst College Press, published for the centennial of Emily Dickinson's 1886 death, is edited with an introduction and manuscript comments by R. W. Franklin. Ralph Franklin is arguably the best current Dickinson manuscript scholar and also edited 'The Poems of Emily Dickinson', to my eyes the current definitive edition of Dickinson. The Master Letters are three letters, actually drafts of three letters, to a person Emily addresses as 'Master' They are undated by Dickinson, but some sleuthing and careful handwriting analysis described in the introduction put them in a credible chronologic order. No other version of these letters or the other side of this correspondence is known. A wonderful mystery. For decades only a fragment of one letter was known to the public, published with Dickinson poems because of the poetic qualities abundant in these letters. The full letters were suppressed, presumably because of their intimate emotional content. The mildest letter was published in 1931, the final two waited until 1955 for publication. Because of Dickinson's original and idiosyncratic use of punctuation, capitalization, and word and line spacing, it is currently fashionable to read Dickinson in the original, usually meaning reproductions of the handwritten originals. Standard print has no equivalent of her dashes of various lengths, for example. This text includes full page photographs of every page of the letters with a faithful printed version on the facing page. Plus, as a real treat, an insert envelope contains complete reproductions of all the original leaves. A beautiful touch. The hand of the author is very present in scratch outs, overwrites, and corrections - giving hints at Emily's creative and editing process. The handwriting is clear and legible but takes some study to read fluidly. I feel very close to Emily Dickinson reading and holding these letters. This text is a must for Dickinson fans, and will be appreciated by many bibliophiles and scholars.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 23, 2002
Ms. Dickenson's work is masterfully exemplified in this work. Her twist on words goes beyond being as deep as symbols within symbols. This is unavoidable to any who respect literature.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.