Emily Dickinson’s Poetry As It Was Meant To Be Read

Emily-dickinson-three-lions-gettyHillary Kelly at The New Republic:

It turns out that for a not insignificant fee, literary museums and author’s homes will often let guests handle the artifacts, materials, and manuscripts of long-deceased writers. On a chilly, windblown visit to the Brontë Parsonage, I once held, in gloved hands, the tiny 2-inch-by-2-inch booklets the startlingly precocious Brontë children sewed and then filled with tales of imaginary lands. To hold and smell and access a manuscript at such close range was an inimitable experience. An exhaustive digital archive may satiate the researcher and gratify the fan, but a manuscript’s essence is inevitably tarnished when observed through a screen.

What makes The Gorgeous Nothings—a facsimile collection of the poems Emily Dickinson composed, as she often did, on envelopes—so riveting is that despite presenting reproductions it very nearly captures what Walter Benjamin would have referred to as the envelopes’ auras. Perfectly to scale, warmly photographed, and positioned inside a generous, expansive white margin, the envelopes are nearly as breathtaking on the page as they might be in the hand. But to merely call The Gorgeous Nothings, and the envelope poems within it, beautiful, would do a disservice to Marta Werner and Jen Bervin’s remarkable artistic and scholarly achievement.

more here.