During her life, Emily Dickinson rightly suspected that her unconventional poems would baffle—even shock—her contemporaries. Later readers have gotten used to her dashes, hymn meters, and slant rhymes, but her tight, riddling lyrics are still a challenge. However, the rewards of reading DICKINSON (Harvard Univ., $35) are many, and there’s no better companion in this endeavor than Helen Vendler, author of studies on Yeats, Stevens, Herbert, and many modern poets. She brings to this selection of 150 Dickinson poems a lifetime of close reading and an amazing ability to empathize with the poet’s position, articulating what Dickinson tried to do, the problems she faced, and how she resolved them. Each commentary addresses formal and thematic elements of a given poem and draws on the poet’s biography and reading, including citations from the 1844 Webster’s Dickinson consulted. Vendler offers a wealth of insight and information, suggesting readings but never closing off options. In each two-to-five-page essay she says more, and says it more clearly, than many critics do in entire books.

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674048676
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Belknap Press - September 7th, 2010

Dickinson: Selected Poems and Commentaries Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674066380
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Belknap Press - October 29th, 2012

For over 50 years, the South African Nobel laureate Nadine Gordimer has been contributing to the intellectual discourse on race, politics, and literature by creating characters in her stories and novels, and by focusing directly on the issues of the day in her essays and reviews. TELLING TIMES (W.W. Norton, $39.95), a collection of her nonfiction since 1954, shows her as an outspoken opponent of apartheid, while her fiction, such as the work gathered from all stages of her career in LIFE TIMES (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $30), presents the daily humiliations and dangers of trying to live within this crippling system. Gordimer’s immense insight, wisdom, and storytelling skills come through in every genre she writes. These two collections chart the growth and long career of a brilliant, world-class writer.

Telling Times: Writing and Living, 1954-2008 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393066289
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 28th, 2010

Susan Cheever profiles a well-loved American author in her biography LOUISA MAY ALCOTT (Simon & Schuster, $26). Louisa was much influenced by her father­–a brilliant philosopher and progressive educator, but an ineffectual provider.  In fact, much of her writing was fueled by the family’s need for money.  She used her own life as inspiration for her most famous book, Little Women; her mother, sisters, and many friends became models for the characters.   Louisa was clearly a product of the fertile literary environment in which she dwelled; the Alcotts counted Emerson, Hawthorne, and Thoreau as friends and neighbors.  Of course, she was also inspired by the times; the Civil War, industrialization, westward expansion, immigration, and the beginnings of the Women’s Suffrage movement informed Alcott’s thinking and writing.  Cheever’s book builds to the eventual success of this beloved author, a triumph after years of hardship and rejection.

Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416569923
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Published: Simon & Schuster - November 8th, 2011