Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor

By Wendy Barker | Go to book overview

I Broad Daylight, Cooking
Stoves, and the Eye of God

The Formation of a Common Metaphor

laid under the burning-glass in the sun's eye Adrienne Rich1

The pattern of the sun Can fit but him alone For sheen must have a Disk To be a sun" Emily Dickinson (P 1550)

The world said with a guffaw, Write? What's the good of your writing? Virginia Woolf2

For Emily Dickinson daylight itself was heavily burdened by familial and household demands, demands that chafed. Although this poet's obsessive determination to remain within the bounds of her family's house has resulted in at least one critic's labeling her a "little home-keeping person," such a label points directly to the central conflict underlying Dickinson's position.3 As Barbara Mossberg in particular has shown, the role of daytime daughter Emily Dickinson was expected to fill was anathema to the life of poetry she yearned to live.4 Even though throughout her life she carried out the domestic and familial duties expected of her, her writing contains hundreds of statements (many cryptic and covert)5 about her realization that the round peg of her literary genius could not fit the square hole of nineteenth-century American womanhood. What other critics have not demonstrated, however, is that Dickinson

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Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Ad Feminam: Women and Literature vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction - Gender, Hierarchy, and the Great Principle of Light 1
  • 1 - Broad Daylight, Cooking Stoves, and the Eye of God 31
  • 2 - Dowering and Depriving 51
  • 3 - Races Nurtured in the Dark 74
  • 4 - Dwelling in Possibility 102
  • 5 - Enacting the Difference A Whole New Metaphor Beginning Here 134
  • Notes 189
  • Index to Dickinson Poems Cited 207
  • Index 211
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