Chapter

Methods of Unmaking

Alexandra Socarides

in Dickinson Unbound

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199858088
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950300 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199858088.003.0005
Methods of Unmaking

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This chapter turns to Dickinson’s late poems, the scraps and fragments that she wrote on equally scrap-like materials from her home. Attention to the lines that Dickinson wrote on the inside flaps of discarded envelopes and the back sides of shopping lists, advertisements, bills, and recipes shows that in the midst of what has always seemed like a disintegration of her systematic compositional practices, Dickinson was actually returning to the fascicles to rewrite, revise, redact, and what I call “unmake” this poetry in a new material context. By looking closely at this largely untreated stage in Dickinson’s compositional process, I argue that Dickinson’s literal material contexts continue to make all the difference to the poems themselves, as the scrap-like paper prompts Dickinson to write poems which, as the draft manuscripts show so vividly, have a very hard time coming to their ends.

Keywords: drafts; scraps; fragments; household paper; revision

Chapter.  14035 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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