Barnstone identifies four major phases in Dickinson's development, which are marked by her struggle against the Calvinist tradition in which she was raised and her growing involvement with Transcendentalism. In the first phase, Dickinson critiques Calvinism and Sentimentalism through satire. In the second, intensely prolific period, she experiences an intellectual crisis, in which she masters the Calvinist theology that vexes her through a process Barnstone terms "self-conversion." In the third phase, the poet's work develops from a struggle with Calvinist self-annihilation and despair to a reworking of Emerson's Transcendental, exalted discovery of the self.
Barnstone concludes her volume with an exploration of the recent debates over the textual problems in Dickinson's work, bringing them to bear on the canon of the poet's late work, which consists largely of letter-poems. Her whole life, Dickinson grappled with death, loss of loved ones, and the afterlife; at the end of her career, she developed her own intimate and relational form of literary immortality in letters.
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|Publisher||University Press of New England|
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|eBook format||Hardcover, (torrent)|
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