Saturday, February 20, 2010

The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson

To Jerome Charyn, Emily Dickinson’s “work and life is just as liberating for men as it is for women.” Charyn is the author of the new novel, The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson, published by W. W. Norton and Co., which will hit stores Feb. 22.

Morgan M. Hurley writes:
It should be noted that Secret is not a biography. It is not a compilation of her works. What it is, is a novel based on her life from her own perspective, in her own voice.

Dickinson was the typical “village poet,” Charyn said. She didn’t write for notoriety and often wrote on the back of recipes. Although she wrote throughout her life, he notes that it appears an especially fertile period was during the Civil War.

Was Emily Dickinson a lesbian?
Charyn doesn’t think so. What he does believe is that she had a very intense, very loving relationship with her best friend and sister-in-law, Susan Gilbert; but we shouldn't try to see too much into it, since that was typical for women at that time.

“Susan was her muse and definitely the most important person in her life. She guided her through her life, and I believe they were soul mates,” Charyn surmised, "but I don't believe anything sexual occurred."

“We are all male and female and if I hadn’t been female in some way, I wouldn’t have been able to write this book," Charyn said.