Writing Life. Suffering as a Poetic Strategy of Emily Dickinson

Writing Life. Suffering as a Poetic Strategy of Emily Dickinson

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The analysis of a selection of Emily Dickinson’s texts confirms the notion that suffering occupies the principal position in the poet’s work. Her poetry constitutes an example of a painful literary quest for subjectivity as well as an act of self-transcendence, which means that through her writing the poet obtained conscious control over her personal anguish. By using pain as a poetic strategy she transformed her private biography into a literary text. In this way she became a model for coping with suffering and using it for self-examination and self-development.


In Emily Dickinson’s poems suffering creates a new language and a new outlook on the self and the world. During the investigation of her poetic texts three dimensions of suffering as a poetic strategy have been distinguished: suffering as a theme, suffering as a subversive force affecting the language and suffering as a form of poetic expression. The critical tool used for this analysis was the theory of Julia Kristeva, who emphasises these elements as crucial in the interpretation of literary texts. [...]


The healing power of Emily Dickinson’s poetry lies in her presenting that suffering also has the positive, empowering side. By displaying an astounding autonomy and showing an alternative way of existence the poet demonstrated that fulfilment can be understood in a very broad sense. Her poetry constitutes evidence that the creative processes can be used as psychotherapy for both the creator and the recipient. [...]


From Conclusion by Jadwiga Smith and Anna Kapusta


e-ISBN 978-83-233-8385-7 


Liczba stron92
WydawcaWydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Jagiellońskiego
ISBN-13978-83-233-3260-2
Numer wydania1
Język publikacjipolski
Informacja o sprzedawcyRavelo Sp. z o.o.

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Spis treści

  Acknowledgements    7
  Introduction    9
  Chapter 1. The Dualistic Nature of Suffering    13
    1.1. Suffering as a dispiriting factor    13
      1.1.1. Lack of love    15
      1.1.2. Lack of maternal love    17
      1.1.3. Lack of romantic love    19
      1.1.4. Lack of God    22
      1.1.5. Lack of health    27
    1.2. The Empowering side of suffering    34
      1.2.1. Suffering as a stimulus to greater self-understanding and creativity    34
      1.2.2. Adopting an unorthodox feminine role    36
      1.2.3. Poetry as a sublimation of rage    41
      1.2.4. New spirituality    45
    1.3. Conclusion: Emotional disturbance as a prerequisite of a poetic explosion    49
  Chapter 2. Kristeva’s Main Tenets    51
    2.1. Kristeva’s concept of abjection and Emily Dickinson’s poetry    51
    2.2. Semiotic features in Emily Dickinson’s poetic language    57
      2.2.1. “Unorderable cognitive chaos”    59
      2.2.2. Ambiguity caused by compression and elision    60
      2.2.3. Unorthodox treatment of grammar    61
      2.2.4. Absurd phrases    63
      2.2.5. Slow delivery    64
      2.2.6. Repetition and obsessive litanies    64
        2.2.6.1. Repetition of a phrase    65
        2.2.6.2. Parallels of syntax    65
        2.2.6.3. Repetition of the same sound and alliteration    65
        2.2.6.4. Obsessive litanies    66
      2.2.7. Interruption in speech flow    66
      2.2.8. The pressure for silence    67
      2.2.9. Mood swings – self belittling to self-confidence    68
    2.3. Strategies for representing suffering    71
      2.3.1. Minimalism as a technique for representing despair    71
      2.3.2. Composition as a technique to present loneliness    73
      2.3.3. Sarcasm and irony as a tool to illustrate defiance    75
      2.3.4. Realism as a technique of humanising pain    78
    2.4. Conclusion: The functions of poetic techniques in Emily Dickinson’s poems    80
  Conclusion    81
  Summary    85
  Streszczenie    87
  Works Cited    89
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