These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson

· W. W. Norton & Company
4.7
3 reviews
Ebook
304
Pages

About this ebook

A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice, this engaging, insightful portrayal of Emily Dickinson sheds new light on one of American literature’s most enigmatic figures.

On August 3, 1845, young Emily Dickinson declared, “All things are ready” and with this resolute statement, her life as a poet began. Despite spending her days almost entirely “at home” (the occupation listed on her death certificate), Dickinson’s interior world was extraordinary. She loved passionately, was hesitant about publication, embraced seclusion, and created 1,789 poems that she tucked into a dresser drawer.

In These Fevered Days, Martha Ackmann unravels the mysteries of Dickinson’s life through ten decisive episodes that distill her evolution as a poet. Ackmann follows Dickinson through her religious crisis while a student at Mount Holyoke, which prefigured her lifelong ambivalence toward organized religion and her deep, private spirituality. We see the poet through her exhilarating frenzy of composition, through which we come to understand her fiercely self-critical eye and her relationship with sister-in-law and first reader, Susan Dickinson. Contrary to her reputation as a recluse, Dickinson makes the startling decision to ask a famous editor for advice, writes anguished letters to an unidentified “Master,” and keeps up a lifelong friendship with writer Helen Hunt Jackson. At the peak of her literary productivity, she is seized with despair in confronting possible blindness.

Utilizing thousands of archival letters and poems as well as never-before-seen photos, These Fevered Days constructs a remarkable map of Emily Dickinson’s inner life. Together, these ten days provide new insights into her wildly original poetry and render an “enjoyable and absorbing” (Scott Bradfield, Washington Post) portrait of American literature’s most enigmatic figure.

4.7
3 reviews
Third-party review
Lovely. I wish I could strike so true to my self as Emily did to herself.
Third-party review
Using ten pivotal moments, the author explores the life of the "at home" Emily Dickinson. From her early school days at Amherst to her early death and her life in between, her evolving talent of a ...
Third-party review
In her Author's Note, Martha Ackmann tells of her first encounter with Emily Dickinson's poetry in high school English when she read, "After great pain, a formal feeling comes--"* Ackmann said she ...

About the author

Martha Ackmann, author of These Fevered Days, Curveball, and The Mercury 13, writes about women who have changed America. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship, Ackmann taught a popular seminar on Dickinson at Mount Holyoke College and lives in western Massachusetts.

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