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League of Inveterate Poets

The out-of-context contextuality of a foolish sage

The Secret Life of the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: Queen Recluse

| March 13, 2011

Following Carlo’s death, Emily becomes a “hermit in [her] father’s house.” Though the behavior terrifies and disgusts her, she seems powerless in its grip.

The Secret Life of the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: The Vampyre of Cambridgeport

| March 13, 2011

Whenever life turned on her, Emily’s imagination became her friend, ally, and powerful weapon with which to confront the world.

The Secret Life of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: Carlo and Currer Bell

| September 14, 2010

In “Holyoke,” the first section of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, we saw Emily taking the first steps outside the tight confines of Squire Dickinson’s West Street home. There she does things she never would have dared to attempt while under her Father’s ever-vigilant eye, including the pursuit of a forbidden man, her “burglar” Tom. She also has an up-close-and-personal encounter with the revivalist religion of her day, and says, “No, thank you.”

In this second section, Emily comes home, but she will never again be satisfied with just being her Father’s “sweet Dolly.” She begins to explore the wilder side of the Amherst beyond her dooryard, and we are increasingly unsure how much of this happens in “reality” and how much in her fantasies and dreams.

The Secret Life of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: Holyoke

| September 13, 2010

It is odd and slightly ironic that one of the most frequent criticisms leveled at The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson (hereinafter The Secret Life) was that it suffered from a lack of citing Miss Dickinson’s poetry. While it may be true that there are very few quotations of her poems in the book, from the very first words, we are fully in the realm of poetry, in her own voice (as author Jerome Charyn imagines it):

“Tom the handyman is wading in the snow outside my window in boots a burglar might wear” (17).

It is imagery true to the Emily we know through her poetry.

Moreover, it introduces one of the central characters (and primary resident of Emily’s dreams), the fictitious Tom Harkin (or Tom the Handyman). Tom is an orphan rescued by the headmistress of Holyoke Female Seminary and taken in to be the school’s handyman. He is forbidden any contact with the female students, thus (along with his shock of blond hair) making him instantly the object of Emily’s desire.

The Secret Life of the Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: An Introduction

| September 11, 2010

This entry is part of a series, Secret Life of The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson» Image via Wikipedia After The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson author Jerome Charyn came upon my review of his novel, he wrote to me on Twitter that “it really is about Emily’s dream life and you’re the first one […]

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