Title

As if for you to choose -‘: Conflicting Textual Economies in Dickinson’sCorrespondence with Helen Hunt Jackson

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal

Volume

31.6

Publication Date

2002

First Page

743

Last Page

757

Abstract

Studies of the Emily Dickinson and Helen Hunt Jackson correspondence often mention the extraordinary biographical similarities that make all the more obvious the very different trajectories of each writer’s life. The parallels include: being born within two months of one another in Amherst, Massachusetts; receiving literary guidance from Thomas Wentworth Higginson; dying within a year of each other; being both at different times acclaimed America’s leading poet. Of the many differences between the two, the one that emerges most strikingly in the correspondence concerns each writer’s approach to literary publication and circulation. Jackson, who achieved considerable but relatively brief fame through print publication and commercial distribution, argues for the value of commercial publication; Dickinson, who sought limited circulation but won lasting fame, a fame that came to her at least in part because her literary art was so much less determined by the transient tastes of the literary marketplace suggests that the practice of gift distribution well established in nineteenth-century American culture provided an important alternative means for the distribution of her literary art.

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