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Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds Paperback – 7 Apr 2011
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""Lives Like Loaded Guns."..reads like a fabulous detective story, replete with hidden treasure, diabolical adversaries and a curse from one generation to the next...Gordon is fair to all...revealing their strengths and liabilities, and she corrects some of the inconsistencies of earlier biographies..."Abyss has no biographer," Dickinson warned future readers. But Gordon is not frightened of the pits and traps and the thousand masks that Emily wears. She takes us into undiscovered territory." -"The Washington Post " "Fascinating...[Gordon] shatters the Dickinson myth, revealing for the first time the twisted tale of how Dickinson came to be revered as "a harmless homebody shut off from live to suffer and contemplate a disappointment in love...".Brilliant literary detective work...Uncovering the mystery of why the mischievous, sensible creature who emerges from this biography hid from the world is where Gordon hits her stride...Gordon catches the poet's essence, allowing u
* 'As rich as a novel by Henry James' DAILY TELEGRAPH
* 'Will do nothing less than revolutionise the way Dickinson is read for years' GUARDIAN
The definitive biography, out now in paperback
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The book goes on in great details about the two feuding factions of family and friends who battled for years over the ownership and copyright of Emily's impressive body of work. Some readers might be tempted to pass on that but I think it is worth staying with it, if nothing else but for the contrast offered by the pure voice of the poet, compared with the conduct of the contemporaries who survived her and their descendants, who for all their love and admiration of Emily Dickinson and her work, their personal talents and dedication, managed to behave in less than inspiring ways!
Some twenty years before her death, Emily Dickinson wrote:
Publication — is the Auction
Of the Mind of Man —
Poverty — be justifying
For so foul a thing
How vindicated she would have felt in her low opinion of the published state had she seen the vultures fighting over her heart's breath.
Emily's probable epilepsy is well delineated and the character of her work, reclusiveness and intensity all point to that diagnosis. The daggers drawn feuds must have been intensified by her isolation, her preference for white is also a mark of Emily's preoccupation with wholesomeness. However the possibility of an affair with Bowles is not out of the question though that can never be known at this distance
Just how far her brother's infidelity had an effect on Emily's writing, maybe it was a damper, is conjecture.
For the lover of biography, this book is a must and far exceeds the tedious and instant characterisation of pop stars and politicians which are there to bore us.
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