how radical is Dickinson?

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 13:24:42 -0400 (EDT)



Now the question is, 

		How radical is Dickinson?

And please, please, please--I mean the question to have everything to do
with her language, the way she uses her language. If she's radical, what
kind of conventions and rules does she break, and why?

Just summarizing from recent 88ers' comments, we have these:

	She was disruptive. Her suppressed passions broke 
	through the surface, powerfully. She referred to herself
	so completely that she was herself like fire. She may have
	turned people away from her writing. She was her
	own majority.

Alberto wrote this morning about Dickinson's "disruptive" quality (the
form, he said, of the volcano poem "adds to the disruption).

Various folks have talked about how the "suppressed passions" Natalie and
Dan described break through the linguistic surface of the poems. (What
does she think of that surface?)

Shawn sees Dickinson's radicalism as part of her self-reference: to
Whitman's "I touch fire!" Shawn notes that Dickinson would say, "I burn
like the fire!" There Whitman is to the fire as a subject is to an object,
as a namer is to the named. (Traditional DENOTATION--conventional
word-points-to-thing action.) But Dickinson is to the fire as I am to I.
(All subject, no object!) This was what later in the course we'll call
*radical subjectivity*.

Monica earlier suggested that Dickinson might be deliberately using a
"difficult" style to "turn people away."

Scott called Dickinson's language "unnavigable."

A.C. very recently interpreted "Majority" in "soul selects her own
society" as a constitution of one person--Emily herself. If she is herself
the "company" she wishes to be "with" her (in the sense of *voting* "with*
someone; taking sides) then "Majority rules." This uses (steals!) the
rhetoric of democracy while ostentatiously not being democratic!

What kind of radicalism is this?


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