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Selected Letters

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  264 ratings  ·  21 reviews
When the complete "Letters of Emily Dickinson" appeared in three volumes in 1958, Robert Kirsch welcomed them in the "Los Angeles Times," saying "The missives offer access to the mind and heart of one of America's most intriguing literary personalities." This one-volume selection is at last available in paper-back. It provides crucial texts for the appreciation of America ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published March 15th 1986 by Belknap Press (first published 1971)
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Michelle Galo
May 08, 2009 Michelle Galo rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Students and fans of Emily Dickinson
Before you pick up a Dickinson biography, read these Selected Letters. This collection takes you through Dickinson's life from with her most important correspondences to friends and family. Thoughtful, humorous, passionate, and simply, purely Dickinson, these letters offer insights into the poet's life best experienced in her own words.

From Emily's hilarious, snappy Valentine letters, to her letters home from Mount Holyoke Female Seminary, to her friendship with Susan Gilbert, to her mentor cor
...more
Anita
Emily Dickinson is one of those mysterious figures in Literature. I've always been very curious about her. Her life is just so incredible, so different. She locked herself in her house little by little, and wrote amazing poetry that was only published after her death.

I liked these letters because I could get a glimpse of that woman who left her mark upon Literature and yet, nobody know much about her. I loved reading about her relationship with her siblings, with her sister-in-law, with some sup
...more
John Pappas
Certainly access to her books and blooms are reasons enough for reading these selected letters, but the insight given to her poetry, philosophy, and life as an iconoclastic woman of the 19th century is astounding. Not only for scholars of Emily Dickinson, this collection of her letters is for an reader who wishes to immerse him or herself in the wit and wisdom of one of America's premier poets. Documenting important familial and scholarly correspondences, Johnson's text provides ample notes abou ...more
Britta
Emlily Dickinson's letters have elegance and are crafted and written with, I think, just as much consideration and care as her poetry was. It is fun to read the letters to gain a sense of everyday life at the time, but perhaps my favorite thing about these letters is the malleability of voice employed in their writing. Depending on the recipient and Dickinson's mood, the letters vary wildly in tone and style. Often dealing in the mundane day-to-day details of life, the letters contain a flow of ...more
Benjamin
It's a shame that this is the best edition of Dickinson's letters now in print, since it necessarily leaves out a lot of really incredible material. Harvard should bring out all three volumes of the complete letters in paperback. I can't believe it would sell less than, oh, the two volumes of Flaubert's letters, which Harvard does make available in paper. To my mind, the biggest problem with this edition is that it emphasizes biography over writing and so devotes an enormous amount of space to t ...more
Susan
Mar 30, 2014 Susan rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Emily Dickinson
Shelves: non-fiction, tbr-list
"A Letter always feels to me like immortality because it is the mind alone without corporeal friend." Many of these letters are as original and truthful of thought as her poems. They also provide a biography in her own voice. A few letters from her friend the poet, T.W. Higginson are included, as well as the letters he wrote to his wife after meeting Emily Dickinson for the first time. He quotes her as saying, "If I read a book [and] it makes my whole body so cold no fire ever can warm me I know ...more
Helen
A little esoteric, a lot delightful. Sometimes they are as weird as you'd expect. Other times they're as insightful as you'd hope. And the letters from Dickinson's childhood are precious:

we found a Hens nest with four Eggs in it I took out three and brought them in the next day I went to see if there had been any laid and there had not been any laid and the one that was there had gone so I suppose a skonk had been there or else a hen In the shape of a skonk and I dont know which.
Mia
So entirely beautiful. So strange. I am very grateful that she lived.

“You mention Immortality.
This is the Flood subject. I was told that the Bank was the safest place for a Finless Mind. I explore but little since my mute Confederate, yet the ‘infinite Beauty’—of which you speak comes too near to seek.
To escape enchantment, one must always flee.”— 194

“You must let me go first, Sue, because I live in the Sea always and know the Road.” – 306

Kent
Undeniably, the letters give a view into Emily Dickinson's life, and the voice in her poems. So many ecstatic letters sent to Higginson or Bowles. The tender tone taken toward Otis Lord or her Norcross cousins. My only dispute comes where the editor points out some part of Dickinson's relationship with Sue Gilbert Dickinson that I don't feel the full context for.
Michael
"You are a great poet—and it is a wrong to the day you live in, that you will not sing aloud. When you are what men call dead, you will be sorry you were so stingy."

-Helen Hunt Jackson to Emily Dickinson, March 1876
Aneesa
May 13, 2011 Aneesa marked it as to-read
The editor of a competing volume explains despite herself why we must read Harvard's copyrighted edition: http://www.theparisreview.org/blog/20...
Amanda Davidson
"You know how I must write you -
down, down, in the terrestrial;
no sunset here,
no stars,
not even a bit of twilight,
which I can poetize -"

(ED, letter to Susan Gilbert [Dickinson])
Kayla
I find Emily Dickson fascinating, and this book is the best way (besides her poetry, of course) to understand what she was like.
Brenna
Usually, I don't go in much for author's personal lives, but I found her poems so psychologically interesting I had to read more.
Ian
I would have loved to get a letter from her, but I would have been terrified to set down a response.
Lavinia
Rich in details, poetic, of course, but somehow mixed with day-to-day experiences and little nothings
Jess Bradley
i love emily dickinson and her letters are witty and heartfelt. a must-have for any true fan.
elise
May 05, 2008 elise is currently reading it
i just want to read the correspondence between herself and that mr higginson.
Mom
The depth of emotion expressed in such few words can be very powerful.
Adam Fitzgerald
Her letters make other poets' poems seem like prose.
Esabetta
haunted/haunting
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Emily Dickinson was an American poet who, despite the fact that less than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime, is widely considered one of the most original and influential poets of the 19th century.

Dickinson was born to a successful family with strong community ties, she lived a mostly introverted and reclusive life. After she studied at the Amherst Aca
...more
More about Emily Dickinson...
The Complete Poems Selected Poems The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson Poems (Shambhala Pocket Classics) Final Harvest: Poems

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“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me, I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only ways I know it. Is there any other way?” 941 likes
“open me carefully” 22 likes
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