My Wars Are Laid
Away in Books

Alfred Habegger
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Buy *My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson* online My Wars Are Laid
Away in Books:
The Life of Emily Dickinson

Alfred Habegger
Random House
896 pages
October 2001
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

Poets and poetry are a mystery to me. Something that seems so easy and yet so complex can capture the hearts of millions to inspire, achieve, believe. All your emotions and memories are written down, youíre only speaking of how you see life but once written immortality is achieved.

Emily Dickinson is such a person. One of Americaís greatest poets, she is highly misunderstood and her life is shadowed by the unknown. Dickinson never wanted to be published while she was alive (1830 Ė 1886) and she never was. However, despite her wishes, her writing lives on inspiring countless writers, musicians and artists even a century after her death. Now Alfred Habegger (author of The Father: A Life of Henry James, Sr.) has discovered much about Dickinson that was ambiguously in the shadows. Was she a lesbian? Why did she refuse to publish, and why was this refusal so integral an aspect of her work? Using legal archives, congregational records and previously unpublished fragments of Dickinsonís own letters, Habegger shows how Dickinson tuned her "voice" and turned her personal life into a work of art.

I was utterly fascinated and intrigued throughout this book. It reads almost like a novel, and it is not so intellectualized that a layperson canít understand what iss being said. Bits of Dickinsonís poetry and other literary works are included to liven the narrative tone and shore up the conclusion indicated.

I have to admit that Iím not big on poetry. I havenít read any for pleasure in my life, unless it was quoted in another book that Iím reading. However, Iíve always felt that something was lacking in my reading. That I should own a dog-eared copy of Whitman, Dickinson, or some other lyricist to pull out and ponder over. Having read this moving biography of Emily Dickinson, I feel even more inclined to do so and so will you.

© 2002 by Kim Lightfoot for Curled Up With a Good Book

buy *My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson* online
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