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05 September 2010 @ 05:01 pm
I saw this in the bookstore yesterday:
Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries - Helen Vendler

If they have any copies left when the frequent buyer book sale rolls around, I might succumb...

I always feel humbled by Emily Dickinson. Shakespeare, I can do; I get him, viscerally. (That's not to say that I have clever things to say about him, but I can say basic things just fine. There may be individual passages or even plays where I'm just at sea, and there are always levels beyond the level I can see, but on the whole...I can shape my brain to it. If that makes sense.) Same with Austen; she just makes sense. It's almost a physical thing, in both cases.

Out of my three literary best beloveds, Emily Dickinson is the one for whom I don't really have that same understanding, that same feeling for it. ("I know no touch of it," Guildenstern would say--and the tactile quality of "touch" is just right.) I love the poems, I know a fair number by heart--but I don't know how to assemble the pieces to make meaning beyond mere emotion. (Which is not to say that emotion is a bad thing, of course. It's just that I want to know why I feel a certain way--I prefer being able to say "this is why I love it," instead of just throwing out diffuse waves of affection.)
Valancy: FacepalmScullyvalancy_s on September 6th, 2010 02:23 pm (UTC)
I hope Helen Vendler is more interesting to read than she was as a graduation speaker...
tempestsarekind: books and flowerstempestsarekind on September 6th, 2010 04:34 pm (UTC)
Well, I find her very interesting to read, so I can only assume so.