Lunacy of Light: Emily Dickinson and the Experience of Metaphor

By Wendy Barker | Go to book overview

5
Enacting the Difference A Whole New Metaphor Beginning Here

The People said, "Who shall be the sun?" David Wagoner1

We must break through the old roles to encounter our own meanings in the symbols we experience in dreams, in songs, in vision, in meditation. Marge Piercy2

Emily Dickinson poem "Further in Summer than the Birds" has become in many ways prophetic, for in our own century, a metaphoric "minor nation" of barely visible creatures singing hidden in the grass grows to a major nation of vocal women writers literally conscious of the "Difference" they and their art are beginning to enact. Indeed, Dickinson's use of the term "nation" to describe the crickets' voices united in their own celebration implies of course that this is a group who sings of shared values and experiences. In the twentieth century, a heightened awareness of the tradition of literature by women, of the fact that women writers have indeed comprised a community, a nation, for centuries, has begun to effect the entire literary landscape. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, for instance, have affirmed particularly in Shakespeare's Sisters, Shakespeare has had many literary sisters, and it is precisely due to the brilliant work of such feminist critics as Elaine Showalter, Ellen Moers, Gilbert and Gubar, Nina Baym, Annette Kolodny, Carolyn Heilbrun, Alicia Ostriker, and many others, that we have begun to recognize the enormous wealth and significance of the tradition of literature by women.

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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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