A Door Ajar: Contemporary Writers and Emily Dickinson

Hardcover | August 31, 2006

byThomas Gardner

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Thomas Gardner argues in this original study that we are just beginning, as a culture, to understand the far-reaching implications of Emily Dickinson's work. Looking at the way quite different writers have enacted and fleshed-out crucial aspects of her poetry, Gardner gives us a Dickinson forour times. Beginning with the work of Lucie Brock-Broido, Alice Fulton, Kathleen Fraser, and Robert Hass, Gardner moves on to analytical chapters and fully developed conversations with four writers in whose work he finds the fullest extension of Dickinson's legacy. The interviews with thesefour--Marilynne Robinson, Charles Wright, Susan Howe, and Jorie Graham--provide a particularly intimate look at writers at work. In returning to Dickinson's work, Gardner observes, contemporary writers have powerfully extended what he calls her poetics of broken responsiveness in which an acknowledgment of limits leads, paradoxically, to a deep engagement with a world beyond our capacity to master or possess. In the hands ofour most important poets and novelists, Dickinson's "emptying of the articulate self" has become a potent means of addressing some of our culture's fundamental erotic, religious, philosophical, and social questions. A Door Ajar makes visible the Dickinson that will matter to writers and readers overthe next several decades.

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Thomas Gardner argues in this original study that we are just beginning, as a culture, to understand the far-reaching implications of Emily Dickinson's work. Looking at the way quite different writers have enacted and fleshed-out crucial aspects of her poetry, Gardner gives us a Dickinson forour times. Beginning with the work of Lucie ...

Thomas Gardner is Clifford Cutchins III Professor of English at Virginia Tech. Among his other books are Discovering Ourselves in Whitman: The Contemporary American Long Poem and Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining Contemporary Poetry.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:270 pages, 6.18 × 9.41 × 0.98 inPublished:August 31, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195174933

ISBN - 13:9780195174939

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"What a brilliant book! A Door Ajar cuts across genres and eras to reveal the continuing influence of Emily Dickinson in American writing by thinking about and talking to some of our best writers of prose and poetry. This book offers a chance to spend time with some of the keenest literaryintelligence we have. It's a feast."--Robert Hass, University of California at Berkeley