In Dickinson Unbound, Alexandra Socarides takes readers on a journey through the actual steps and stages of Emily Dickinson's creative process. In chapters that deftly balance attention to manuscripts, readings of poems, and a consideration of literary and material culture, Socarides takes up each of the five major stages of Dickinson's writing career: copying poems onto folded sheets of stationery; inserting and embedding poems into correspondence; sewing sheets together to make fascicles; scattering loose sheets; and copying lines on often torn and discarded pieces of household paper. In so doing, Socarides reveals a Dickinsonian poetics starkly different from those regularly narrated by literary history. Here, Dickinson is transformed from an elusive poetic genius whose poems we have interpreted in a vacuum into an author who employed surprising (and, at times, surprisingly conventional) methods to wholly new effect. Dickinson Unbound gives us a Dickinson at once more accessible and more complex than previously imagined.
As the first authoritative study of Dickinson's material and compositional methods, this book not only transforms our ways of reading Dickinson, but advocates for a critical methodology that insists on the study of manuscripts, composition, and material culture for poetry of the nineteenth century and thereafter.