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on 15 December 2005
I came across ED when I was an angstful teenager, and loved her for the fact she could say in three and a half lines whatever profound thing I had recently come to realise. As I grew older I noticed her poems came with me - now she was taking to task the earlier self absorption, mocking it but saying new things that were profound in their turn. In the thirty years since, I've loved her poems for the fact they point to so many aspects of life we experience but don't always find voiced, or because she voices more familiar moments with originality, brevity, or style.
If you don't know her poems then a first glance might find them off-putting - there are so many, they are numbered not named, they are impossible to read in a straight line because of all the hyphens. But don't be put off by these things. They are not just not a major problem, once you 'get your eye in' they are actually good points! For example, she fits, by virtue of those initially - irritating - hyphens - things that ordinary sentences can't (like meaning several things at once). The huge number of poems mean she covers a huge range of life's moments, the numbers instead of titles mean come to them without any preconceptions of what they are about.
Her complete works are like a kind of journey, so wide ranging and varied that there is something for every person you are likely to be. Suitable (and comforting, thought provoking, satisfying) for reflective humans of every age, not just the teenage.
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on 27 February 2007
This definitive edition of Emily Dickinson's poems is the Editor's (THOMAS H. JOHNSON) gift to the author after her well intentioned sister-in-law and other editors imposed their own punctuation and metres on the poet's work, something still perpetuated by other publishing houses and their editors, and nearly always by anthologists. While Dickinson's style is idiosyncratic and highly individual it can startle the new reader with the depth of insight many of her poems show in confronting the human condition, not least in its most painful and mentally tortured moments. However Dickinson was also a keen observer of nature and had a strong independent mind when writing on faith and religion.

My only criticism of this edition is that the wealth of pages have been given too small a format and pages are apt to come loose if the book is used often. A superb edition is available in hardback but a more generous binding would have rendered the extra expense of a H/B copy unnecessary. That said the person who becomes an avid reader of Dickinson will not mind buying subsequent copies year by year.
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on 15 September 2008
Sad to say I only discovered Emily Dickinson as an adult, but what a treasure of tenderness and sensibility she is. Fragrant and light as the blossoms in her garden she describes so lovingly, each poem breathes true originality.
This volume is complete and in chronological order which has the advantage of giving you almost an autobiography in verse, taking you on the life journey of her ideas and emotions. However, it also means you have to seperate the wheat from the chaff yourself. (If you fancy a bit of a 'best of' than this is the wrong book for you.)
A truely enjoyable book. Shame it is only a paperback.
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on 25 April 1999
I have 1000 words to tell what Dickinson means to me, an impossible task I gladly take up. I'd like to respond to others on this page. I once called Dickinson the "patron saint of lonely people everywhere," so I can identify with what one person said about teenage shut-ins. And I don't blame the person who snubbed her for not leaving a name--I'd be embarrassed to as well. Emily egotistical? The poet who wrote, "I'm nobody"? Wow. I love Dickinson's work so much because her vision of life is so fully her own, so at odds with the views of those around her. Can you imagine knowing you are the most brilliant lyric poet of your time (Whitman was more an epic or narrative poet), and knowing no one understood you? It's like trying to communicate in a foreign language that only you know. In fact, that is exactly what she did--she explodes the syntax, vocabulary, and syllabication of English and transforms it into her own private means of communication. She demands that we meet her on her ground. True, reading her work is not "fun"--there's too much pain and burning beauty in it to be an easy ride. She is not for everyone--only for those who see that life's disappointments both destroy and liberate us at the same time: comparing human hurts to trees destroyed by nature's forces, she says (in poem 314), "We--who have the Souls-- / Die oftener--Not so vitally--." Those may be the finest lines any poet ever wrote in English.
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on 18 July 2011
If you are an Emily Dickinson enthusiast or general poetry lover, this edition is the one to get.
Emily Dickinson seems to appeal to a wide range of people, and this is only part of the charm in her surviving work.
This collection is definitely worth having in your book collection to come back to time and time again.
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on 20 June 2015
This appears not to be the edition it claims to be, or at least the poems are in an edited form. I guess this is as edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, who changed the punctuation and occasionally the wording of the poems. Not that edited by Thomas H. Johnson, which restored the poems as much as possible to their intended state.
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This edition edited by Thomas H. Johnson returns the poems to Dickinson's original punctuation, her dashes and ellipses, that render the poetry so delicately elusive and richly allusive. Yet for all the casual, scribbled off air that these fragmented texts evoke, Dickinson is an immaculate stylist using rhyme and metre and all the tools of poetic rhetoric ('by fainter hammers further heard') to make her verse far more literarily sophisticated than it might at first appear.

There is a wonderful tension in this poetry between the claustrophobic or internal and the almost wild liberation that haunts these texts ('done with the compass | done with the chart') - and the syntactical gaps are themselves textual spaces left wide open and free.

For both new readers and old, this is an excellent edition of Dickinson's complete poetry.
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on 22 December 2015
Not as described - different edition
I ordered this paperback edition and was surprised to see when it arrives that it was an Amazon in-house edition. It is edited by 'two friends': Mabel Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson, not the editor claimed on the description. There are no notes, just a very short preface.

This is also a huge book - not one to hold comfortably in hand. Very disappointing - back it goes.
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on 7 December 2015
This is not the edition it claims to be. The page, along with many of the reviews, states that this is the Thomas H. Johnson edition, when it contains the bowdlerized versions edited by Mabel Loomis Todd. This matters more with Dickinson than perhaps any other poet - we are being sold an inferior substitute for the real thing. Please change this at once, as you are seriously misleading your customers.
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on 3 December 2015
I have wanted this book for a while and finally got round to buying however I was a little disappointed to find the back cover and the side of the book are completely white !!
But not to judge a book by it's cover and all that.. The contents is what matters!
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