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By Lena Christensen

Enhancing Emily Dickinson considers the procedures during which Dickinson's paintings has been edited within the 20th century and the way such editorial techniques give a contribution in particular to the creation of Emily Dickinson as author.  The posthumous enhancing of her handwritten manuscripts into the conventions of the booklet and the digital archive has been trained via editors' assumptions concerning the literary paintings; at stake is essentially what a Dickinson poem will be, or, fairly, how we may well method such an item.

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Additional info for Editing Emily Dickinson: The Production of an Author (Studies in Major Literary Authors)

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3 Metaphorically, such a poetics offers a “New World” of poetic form. Rather than offering the reader an ‘Old World’ poetics of finished and organic poems (such as her print editors have offered the reader), Smith suggests that, if “we are prepared to step out of the critical circumference” of such Old World editing and criticism, we will discover “new, Edenic modes of appreciation and interpretation of the holographs” (Rowing 51). ’ Smith’s formulation of the critical task as specifically pursuing ‘new ways’ of reading, according to a “New World” of form, pays allegiance to Lowell’s modernist reading of Emily Dickinson as part of the “vanguard” of the new: it implicitly challenges Tate’s reading of the poet as part of a ‘tradition’ of the genteel as opposed to the modern and experimental.

This anxiety is not so much shaped by what Tate interprets as a simple nostalgic glancing backwards but by a realization of the ideological predicament facing the middle-class woman in the (domestic, sexual and capitalist) marketplace. The New Critical readers of this poem did not have the luxury of seeing this stanza. What is surprising is that the editors of Understanding Poetry, in the third printing of the textbook of 1960 still relied on the 1890 version, in spite of the publication of Johnson’s edition in 1955.

Consider a poem like Emily Dickinson’s “Because I could not stop for Death,” which has an identical verbal text in Johnson’s critical edition, Authoring Emily Dickinson 45 in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, and in Franklin’s recent The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson. These three apparently ‘identical’ texts are in fact very different, for they exist in bibliographical environments (as it were) that enforce very different reading experiences. The analysis of these environments will only yield to an applied textual criticism.

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