Fascicle One: The Gambler’s Recollection

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In her first fascicle, Emily Dickinson establishes the intricate relationship between memory and identity that is a central preoccupation of her letters and poems. Of particular concern to her is the way speakers who convey a powerful sense of personal authority independent of social convention so often seem incapable of retaining awareness of that independence once they assume specific identities. In an effort to ward off this squandering of potential, Dickinson introduces stylistic devices that interrupt syntactic closure as a way of suspending the loss of memory figured through linguistic resolutions of self that result in harmonious and hence "natural" seeming embodiments of dominant cultural values. Dashes, strategic manipulations of voice and a careful ordering of poems are among the primary techniques she combines to define speakers capable of consenting to historically grounded identities while retaining a clear recollection of the self that consented to identity in the first place. By this means, Dickinson gives special prominence to the way imaginative power that can positively enliven the details of daily life also invests those details with a particularity so compelling that they threaten to become sources of entrapment. In order to sustain contact with the consenting self while allowing for the delight that comes from historical engagement, Dickinson creates an unsteady balance between the two that is largely dependent on memory.


http://jefferson.edu/fascicle/crumbley.html, 1998