The Belle of Amherst
OF EMILY DICKINSON
Edited by R.W. Franklin
Harvard University Press
3 volumes, $125
The poems of Emily Dickinson speak to an amazingly wide range of readers. The crisp clarity of her language, the refreshing candor of her voice, the striking originality of her conceptions, her dry wit, her unique blend of deceptive simplicity and enigmatic profundity, are just some of the reasons for her enduring appeal.
Dickinson wrote more than 1,700 poems, but only a few were published in her lifetime. The first substantive scholarly collection of her work was Thomas H. Johnson's edition in 1955. That edition is now superseded by this three-volume variorum edition by Ralph W. Franklin, director of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscripts Library at Yale. Not only does this new edition contain even more poems, but it also gives alternative versions of the poems, which Dickinson left in her manuscripts.
Serious scholars, students, and teachers will welcome this landmark edition. But it might also be the perfect, if perhaps rather pricey, gift for any reader who loves and wants to continue exploring the endless marvels of her poetic creations.