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bear by san

March 2017

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bad girls  mae west

You must forget the warmth he gave, I will forget the light.

There's an interesting article on Slate about Emily Dickinson's love life.

One of the things I find very revealing about the way the cult of popular myth treats Dickinson is that her poems--some of whicH are frankly erotic, you know--are treated as evidence of choked and thwarted passion, will similar works by male authors--Shakespeare, anyone?--are treated as evidence of complicated passions.

And women poets who did get around are consigned to the second tier of the canon, if they're allowed in at all. Emily squeaks into the top rank on perceived purity; Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy parker can linger down there in the gutter with the drunks.



Right. I need to shower, make myself some breakfast and tea, and do some writing. 133 words on "Mongoose" last night, which is not a lot, but does tend to indicate that my brain might be regenerating.

Comments

In her academic satire The Groves of Academe Mary McCarthy satirically proposed a literary theme that would never be seriously suggested: Emily Dickinson was a Lesbian.
Sad but true, the theory that she was a frustrated lesbian has indeed been bandied about. I learned her as a bitter old shut in, but she doesn't always *read* like one, so for serious, people need to let go of the Em-hate.
The sad thing about the theory is that it describes her as frustrated. (Also as lesbian instead of bisexual.) If you read her poems and letters, it's pretty clear that she did indeed have at least one passionate, possibly consummated relationship with another woman. Ditto with a man.

A bitter old shut-in? God, it makes a scholar weep.
Martha Nell Smith, founder of the Dickinson Electronic Archives, and a prof at U of MD, wrote about Dickinson's lesbianism in her book Rowing in Eden, so yeah, not just a bandied about idea. It would be nice if the Slate author gave her a nod and claimed Dickinson as bi instead of trying to read her as straight there.
It's just bizarre to me that people (including evidently her conservators) have had so much invested in the idea of Dickinson as some sort of virgin goddess of poetry. I myself greatly prefer the idea that she wrote from experience and actual passion, rather than theory.

And women poets who did get around are consigned to the second tier of the canon, if they're allowed in at all. Emily squeaks into the top rank on perceived purity; Edna St. Vincent Millay and Dorothy parker can linger down there in the gutter with the drunks.

Mary Robinson comes to mind. She was certainly as good as her contemporaries Wordsworth and Coleridge (who treated her as an equal). While she is being revived she still is mostly known to toiling grad students.

Edited at 2008-10-15 01:43 pm (UTC)
Better conversation and booze in the gutter--that's where I'll be. ^_^
Very, as I snitched it from skellorg who posted it in obsessiveicons.
Hey, WAY off topic but I'm at the office and too lazy to find the right post because I want to go home and crawl back under the covers asap.

I made both the applesauce and a pot of chili. I haven't HAD the applesauce yet, but Puppy had it for breakfast and claims it is totally nom-able.
Yay! I'm going to have some for lunch, me....
Considering that somehow uppity women get translated into those with loose morals (because their morals were simply different), I am quite happy to champion Dorothy Parker as a guttersnipe. I would take it as a point of pride. (Love her work, I do.)
Just curious: which critics have written recently about Dickinson's "choked and thwarted passion"? I'd have said the trend in recent criticism has been in the other direction, including critics who find what they think is evidence of a lesbian affair between Emily and Susan Dickinson.