in the fiery mist


“Dare you see a Soul at the ‘White Heat’?” was the unnerving question put by Emily Dickinson in one of the poems she sent to a new correspondent, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, in the summer of 1862. The answer, fascinatingly explored in a book that pairs the reclusive Belle of Amherst with the man who assisted in the first posthumous publication of her work, is that Colonel Higginson both dared and feared. Meeting Dickinson for the first time in 1870, after eight years of correspondence, the colonel told his invalid wife he had never encountered anyone “who drained my nerve power so much.” Riding home to Newport, a town he loathed, Higginson was nevertheless ready to express gratitude that the newly fashionable resort stood no nearer to Amherst. “I am glad not to live near her,” he confessed.

more from the NY Times here.