Emily Dickinson vs. Anne Bradstreet

I know I was not assigned to either of these authors but when studying for our midterm last night, a thought came across my mind. Yesterday, we discussed the importance of the author of a piece of work and whether or not we should consult this when reading a work. I would like to expand this to author’s intent. We know from reading the works of Anne Bradstreet that her poems were published without her knowledge (read the footnote on page 106 for the poem “The Author to Her Book”). Emily Dickinson on the other had prepared her poetry to be published by writing it on white paper and grouping her poems together.

Does the fact that Anne Bradstreet did not write her poems to be published make her’s more genuine “American” poetry than those of Emily Dickinson whose poems appeared to be collected to be published?

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3 Responses to Emily Dickinson vs. Anne Bradstreet

  1. jnikol12 says:

    I don’t know that Dickinson really planned on publishing most of her work. Maybe there’s some historical fact I’m not aware of, but I thought that only a few of her works were published and it was her sister who compiled all of her other works to be published after her death. Either way, the poetry is not any less “American” if it is published and geared toward a large American audience. Wouldn’t that make it, possibly, even more American? It may be even more likely to discuss pressing historical issues that effect everyone at the time.

    As for its genuineness, I hope that for most serious poets the fact that their works are intended to be published wouldn’t be tempted to “sell out” and write about something they didn’t truly feel just because it needs to sell. Emily Dickinson’s poetry, for example, is so full of deep, dark emotion and allegory that I can’t imagine that she was being disingenuous while writing it. It was Bradstreet who seemed to have a sort of dual personality in her poetry, so perhaps it was she who was being slightly less genuine and honest to herself and her own personal emotions, unrestrained by the pressures of male dominance.

    • sfeingold12 says:

      I was drawing the fact that Dickinson wanted to get published from the introduction on page 1199, second full paragraph. It states that Dickinson wanted to get published but was not willing to give up her voice as an author. In the following paragraph it talks about starting in 1858 Dickinson began to write her poems on white, unlined paper and even sewed groups of poems together to create groupings. I think that it was very much Dickinson’s intention to get published. However, she was not willing to bend to what society wanted of her as a writer. See her poem on page 1219, it clearly states that “Publication – is the Auction/ Of the Mind of Man.”

  2. cjones13 says:

    I actually touched on this on my final essay, but I dont think they make one author or another more “American” poetry from one to another. Anne Bradstreet didnt concent to her work being published, I still think that her poetry was as genuine to her feelings as Emily Dickinson. Emily might of “sold out” and wanted her poetry published, but that is just a personal choice, to me, at least, then a judgement to whether it is genuine.

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