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Selected Letters

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  365 Ratings  ·  28 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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Benjamin
Sep 15, 2007 rated it liked it
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
Michelle
Jun 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Ruth
Nov 30, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Maybe it's because I spent a week at a workshop talking about them, but I think these letters are unbelievably sweet, complicated, mysterious, and poetic. They make me want to write tons of letters.
Ian
Sep 18, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I would have loved to get a letter from her, but I would have been terrified to set down a response.
Patricia Rojo
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Un libro delicioso que se bebe y se lee con la luz.
Jimina Sabadú
Aug 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bios
Cuanto más leo sobre Emily Dickinson, menos creo saber.
ZaRi
Sep 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: letter, women
MR. HIGGINSON,--Your kindness claimed earlier gratitude, but I was ill, and write to-day from my pillow.

Thank you for the surgery; it was not so painful as I supposed. I bring you others, as you ask, though they might not differ. While my thought is undressed, I can make the distinction; but when I put them in the gown, they look alike and numb.

You asked how old I was? I made no verse, but one or two, until this winter, sir.

I had a terror since September, I could tell to none; and so I sing, as
...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
Jul 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Susan
Feb 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
May 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Oct 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: course-assigned
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
Feb 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"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 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...
Brenna
Jul 30, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, poetry
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.
Florencia Scarpatti
Me gusta mucho Emily Dickinson pero por momentos me aburrió un poco although hay pasajes brillantes. Lean su poesía.
Una quote
"Con qué sencillez llega al fin lo Insondable"
Esabetta
May 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
haunted/haunting
Kayla
Sep 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I find Emily Dickson fascinating, and this book is the best way (besides her poetry, of course) to understand what she was like.
Víctor
Aug 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pa non saír da casa tiña máis vida social que moitas que coñezo eu
Adam Fitzgerald
Nov 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Her letters make other poets' poems seem like prose.
Jess Lilja
Jun 21, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i love emily dickinson and her letters are witty and heartfelt. a must-have for any true fan.
Amanda Davidson
Jul 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"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])
Geoffrey Roderick
I didn't get what I was looking for- lots of letters between ED and her editor- but her letters are lovely and we simply won't see correspondence like that anymore.
Mom
Feb 19, 2009 rated it really liked it
The depth of emotion expressed in such few words can be very powerful.
Lavinia
Rich in details, poetic, of course, but somehow mixed with day-to-day experiences and little nothings
David Mayabi
rated it it was amazing
Nov 13, 2013
Stefany
rated it it was amazing
Apr 15, 2013
Sarah Mae
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May 20, 2014
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  • The Life of Emily Dickinson
  • White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson
  • What There Is to Say We Have Said: The Correspondence of Eudora Welty and William Maxwell
  • My Emily Dickinson
  • Letters, Summer 1926
  • One Art
  • Poetry and Prose
  • Spar
  • The Diary of Alice James
  • Letters of T.S. Eliot: 1898-1922
  • Collected Poems and Translations
  • My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson
  • The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination
  • Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall / Tribute to the Angels / The Flowering of the Rod
  • Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries
  • The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Virginia Woolf
  • Collected Poems
  • Beethoven: Letters, Journals and Conversations
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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...
“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?” 1140 likes
“open me carefully” 43 likes
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