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Dickinson's Misery:
A Theory of Lyric Reading
Virginia Jackson

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Dickinson's Misery is our luxury. This rich and rewarding study uncovers intellectual value where no one thought to look for it before: in the envelopes, clippings, pictures, flowers, and dead insects that so often accompanied a Dickinson lyric. A lively, mischievous, and memorable book."--Diana Fuss, Princeton, author of The Sense of an Interior: Four Writers and the Rooms that Shaped Them and Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature, and Difference.

"Dickinson's Misery stunningly combines scrupulous historical and theoretical explorations of Dickinson's bizarre poetic practices, and in so doing it opens the most fundamental questions about what critics and readers since Dickinson have come to call the "lyric." Future writing on poetry in nineteenth-century America and on the nature of lyric and lyrical reading will need to address Jackson's searching arguments."--Jonathan Culler, Cornell University, author of On Deconstruction

"Who doubts that Emily Dickinson wrote lyric poems? Yet this turns out to be one of those truisms that dissolves in the face of simple attention. By showing how much we normalize the strange things that Dickinson wrote precisely by reading them as lyrics, Jackson has written a book that earns its subtitle: a theory of lyric reading. This is one of the most inventive and observant books yet written on Dickinson, but it is more than that: I know of no better study of the performative character of reading, nor of any book that does more to open our eyes to just how little we know about the range of genres and styles of reading in the past."--Michael Warner, Rutgers University

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File created: 4/17/2014

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