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I begin by acknowledging two debts I can never repay.  The astonishing poetry and ground breaking scholarship of Susan Howe, first in the book My Emily Dickinson (1985) and later in "Women and Their Effect in the Distance" (1986), "These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the Illogic of Sumptuary Values" (1991), and The Birthmark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (1993), are ever before and beyond my own.  Led by Howe's work, I crossed into spaces I would not have ventured into alone, and I returned from them changed—marked—to a different place.  She shows me what rigor.  I dared not measure my debt to her scholarship, poetry, and friendship. Whatever in these pages she would own, I freely give (back) to her.
      Second, in April 1991 Jerome J. McGann delivered a series of lectures/dialogues on editorial theory and literary criticism for the Poetics Program at the State University of New York (SUNY), Buffalo, that profoundly changed my thinking about the textual representation of Emily Dickinson and opened up a field of study wholly unknown to me.  This project, begun almost immediately upon McGann's departure from Buffalo, is the direct result of my encounter with his ideas as they are elegantly articulated in A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (1983), The Textual Condition (1991), and, most recently, Black Riders: The Visible Language of Modernism (1993).  McGann's conviction that "the crisis of two disciplinesin hermeneutics, on the one hand, and editorial method on the otherwill not fail to bring about their destined appointment" more than anything else shapes this present work.

      The meeting between hermeneutics and editorial method McGann called for a decade ago in A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism is now at hand.  Today a handful of scholars, many of them women, are studying Dickinson's manuscripts and exploring new textual representations of her work.  The EDIS Editing Collective, currently under the direction of




xii • Acknowledgements


Martha Nell Smith (University of Maryland, College Park), has been formed in response to a need for continued collaborative editorial work on Dickinson's letters and poems.  A new edition of Dickinson's letters and letter-poems to Susan Gilbert Dickinson, soon to be completed by Martha Nell Smith and Ellen Louise Hart, promises to revise in fascinating ways a gendered version of literary creativity and collaboration.  Moreover, Smith's Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson and Sharon Cameron's Choosing Not Choosing: Dickinson 's Fascicles both attest in different ways to the impact and intersection of editorial theory on the hermeneutical enterprise.
      In addition to contributions by these and other Dickinson scholars too numerous to name here, I am indebted to recent work in textual studies, a great deal of it feminist in orientation, by Brenda Silver (on Virginia Woolf), Ulla Dydo (on Gertrude Stein), Betty Bennett (on Mary Shelley), Patricia White, and Katie King. Peter L. Shillingsburg's investigations in the area of electronic media and Randall McLeod's astonishing and maverick work on Shakespeare have also been sources of inspiration.
      My work on Dickinson's manuscripts took me to Amherst College on several occasions.  I am deeply indebted to John Lancaster, curator of Special Collections at Amherst, and to his staff, for their assistance with my research and for their many kindnesses.  Mr. Lancaster permitted me to view a large number of original manuscripts and answered my questions about the history and contents of the Emily Dickinson Collection promptly and in great detail. Frank Ward made numerous and fine photographs of Dickinson materials, and Emily Silverman provided valuable information on papermaking in nineteenth-century Massachusetts.
      It is a pleasure to remember the contributions of Kenneth Dauber, SUNY, Buffalo, who was the manuscript's first and most generous reader.  Later, LeAnn Fields, Susan Whitlock, and Ellen McCarthy read several versions of the manuscript with insight and patience.  To Robert J. Bertholf and the staff of the Poetry/Rare Books Collection, SUNY, Buffalo, I owe a special thanks for providing financial and emotional support over a period of more than three years: without the encouragement and assistance of Susan Michel, Michael Basinski, James Woods, and Joel Kuszai this project could not have been completed.
      I am also deeply indebted to George Bornstein, the editor of the





xiii • Acknowledgements


University of Michigan Press series on editorial theory and literary criticism, for undertaking and encouraging at every stage a project that is in great measure an experiment and therefore a risk.  The role of the institution in the presentation and interpretation of an authorhere Emily Dickinson—is surely changing.
      Grateful acknowledgment is made to the American Philosophical Society for their generous support of this project.
      Finally, grateful acknowledgment is made to the following publishers and organizations for permission to reprint published materials.
      Passages from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson are reprinted by permission of the publishers from The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Boston, Mass.:  Little, Brown and Company, Copyright 1914, 1929, 1935, 1942 by Martha Dickinson Bianchi; copyright & copy; renewed 1957, 1963 by Mary L. Hampson.
      Passages from The Poems of Emily Dickinson are reprinted by permission of the publishers and the Trustees of Amherst College from The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson, ed., Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1951, 1955, 1979, 1983 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
      Passages from The Letters of Emily Dickinson are reprinted by permission of the publishers from The Letters of Emily Dickinson, edited by Thomas H. Johnson, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1958, 1986 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College.
      Passages from The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson are reprinted by permission of the publishers from The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by Ralph W. Franklin, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Copyright © 1981 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College, © 1951, 1955, 1978, 1980 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College,© 1914,1924, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1942 by Martha Dickinson Bianchi.
      The image of Emily Brontë's "How long will you remain. . ." (Bonnell 127 [ 15i ]) is reproduced courtesy of the Brontë Society.
      The images of the manuscripts of Emily Dickinson are reproduced courtesy of the Special Collections and Archives, Amherst College, and The Houghton Library, Harvard University Press.





"Called Back": Scenes of Reading and Writing


To Amherst, c. 1870
from Buffalo, c. 1993


"Did you ever read one of her Poems backward, because the plunge from the front overturned you?  I sometimes (often have, many times) have A something overtakes the Mind " (PF 30).
      An "introduction" is an act of reading backward, the beginning of a tale that, composed in the space beyond its ending, allows the tale to unfold in its proper order.  From the rich and strange fields of Emily Dickinson's late manuscripts, in which I have been wandering for almost three years now and in which I have often lost my way among her crosses and variants, I am called back to the clarity of beginnings.  My return is otherwise. . .

Writing at the far end of the nineteenth century, Emily Dickinson refused the limitations of a print existence and, in doing so, effectively altered the ways in which we read (receive) her encodings: dashes, crosses, and stray marks migrating across the surfaces of the manuscripts still attest to a "presence after presentness" and to her rare, slant meetings with alterity.1   It is all the more poignant, then, to be editing Dickinson's late manuscripts at the close of the twentieth century and at the very moment when, as Gore Vidal observes, we are "going beyond writing."2
      Access to Emily Dickinson's late writings will only be gained by attending to the textual specificities of the holographs themselves.  One aim of "Open Folios," then, is archival.  By providing facsimiles of forty of Dickinson's late manuscripts along with typed transcriptions that display as fully as possible her compositional process, I hope to reveal the spectacular complexity of the textual situation circa 1870, which has been all





2 • Emily Dickinson's Open Folios


but erased by the editorial interventions and print conventions of the present century.  The revelations of this archival body moreovera body "totally imprinted by history and the process of history's destruction of the body"overturn the very systems of organization and classification that have until recently defined the editorial enterprise and invested it with authority.3  Finally, in order to reveal something about the requirements for an aesthetics of open-endedness, this work initiates a break with the analytical methods and claims to comprehensiveness generally associated with scholarly narratives.  Here a poetics (of reading, of editing) precedes theory: in place of a unified argument shored up by interlocking theses, I offer only a series of speculative and fragmentary "close-ups"—a portrait in pieces, a constellation of questions.4

Binding and Unbinding

"The best writing is placed inside beautiful bindings."5
      In 1858 or 1859 Emily Dickinson began binding her work into the small packets that her first editors, Mabel Loomis Todd and Thomas Wentworth Higginson, called fascicles: a cluster of flowers, the leaves of a book.  To assemble a packet Dickinson first copied her poems in ink onto uniform sheets of stationery, then stacked several copied sheets together, stabbed two holes in the set, at last threading them through with string tied once in the front.  In the earliest packets poems are fitted into blank spaces on the page, few alternate word choices appear to complicate readings, and ambiguities are neatly image struck-out Later, however, in the creatively charged 1860s, a significant change takes place inside of the fascicles, a change almost certainly reflecting a change in Dickinson's attitude toward "final authorial intention." At this juncture the packets take on the character of a workshop: variant word choices appear in abundance, and the almost habitual quatrain of the early work is ruptured and transformed under the pressures of a new vision.
      In 1981 Ralph W. Franklin completed his vast facsimile edition of The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson.  In his edition Franklin restores, as far as is currently possible, the original order and internal sequence of the forty fascicles, revises the dating schema of the Johnson variorum, and charts Dickinson's poetic activity up until approximately 1864, when she ceased attempts at fine, handcrafted bookmaking.  The focus of Franklin's edition, then, is those poems that, though never authorized by Dickinson for circulation in the realm of public discourse, may be un- 





Introduction  •   3


derstood as "a personal enactment of the public act that, for reasons unexplained, she denied herself."6
      On the one hand, the immense erudition and scholarly authority of Franklin's edition confirm the gigantic authority of Dickinson's poetry.  On the other hand, the source of Franklin's authority as editor of Dickinson's work may be fundamentally different, even antithetical, to the authority of the writing itself, and to Dickinson's arther rigorof "choosing not choosing."7  By the very act of entering the loved work of an author into the social and economic networks of distribution, an editor necessarily chooses to choose; the creation of an "authoritative critical identity" for Emily Dickinson requires that there be omissions and exclusions: of fragments, scraps, "lost events."8  The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, edited by Franklin in two volumes, offers a portrait of the artist as bookmaker: what is centralthat is, canonicalis what was/is bound in a book.
      Yet what if, as Sharon Cameron wonders, "Dickinson is looking for her own language and finding it in the margins"?9
      Emily Dickinson did not stop writing in 1864; rather, she stopped writing books.  In the final decade of her life, sometimes called the "late prolific period," Dickinson abandoned even the minimal bibliographical apparatus of the fascicles, along with their dialectical structure, to explore a language as free in practice as in theory and to induce the un-binding of the scriptural economy. "Strange," as Rilke wrote in The Duino Elegies, "to see meanings that clung together once, floating away / in every direction."10   In the 1870s and 1880s the leaves of the folios lie scattered: the end of linearity is signaled not in their apparent disorder but, rather, in their apprehension of multiple or contingent orders.  No longer marking a place in a book, the loose leaves of stationery and scraps of paper are risked to still wilder forms of circulation: "Joy and Gravitation have their own ways" (PF 44).
      As Susan Howe and others have pointed out, the signs of a fundamental ambivalence toward synthesis and closure that culminated in the scattering of manuscript leaves in the last decade of Dickinson's life are present in her work almost from its inception."  Around 1860 the first variant word lists appear along the fringes of Dickinson's poems like an alien voicing, disturbing set borders and summoning into the work the "spell of difference." Here "the desire for limit" gives way before "the difficulty in enforcing it."12  Thus, Emily Dickinson's manuscript books and here I refer not to Franklin's twentieth-century reconstructions





4 • Emily Dickinson's Open Folios


 but to the packets themselvesdefine a boundary that is also a threshold at "the austere reach of the book."13  Beyond this threshold, itself an unstable one, lie the rough and fair copy drafts of poems composed after Dickinson ceased binding her work into volumes, the letters she wrote over the course of a lifetime, and, most problematically of all, a large number of extrageneric materialsnow generally labeled prose fragments and draftswritten after 1870 and left in various stages of composition and crisis at the time of her death. These writings belong to a forgotten canon.
      What happens when, to borrow David Porter's words, "the losing of the program for poetry" coincides with the more general coming apart of the codex book and when, second, the standard bibliographical codes regulating the acts of writing and reading are abandoned? are the questions that led to the present edition and are in some sense its subject.14  Here, calling as witnesses of Dickinson's extraordinary experimentation forty documents associated since their publication in the 19505 with the Lord correspondence, I cross into a late scene of her writing to explore the relationship between message and medium and to follow, as far as possible, the trajectory of her desire to inscribe herself outside all institutional accounts of order.

      Where is the body?
      The body is bound in blue cloth over boards, stamped in red and gold on cover and spine.
      In The Predicament of Culture James Clifford writes: "The categories of the beautiful, the cultural, and the authentic have changed and are changing.  Thus it is important to resist the tendency of collections to be self-sufficient, to suppress their own historical, economic, and political processes of production."15
      An edition is also a kind of collection.
      Today students interested in Dickinson's letters or late prose writings generally refer to Thomas H. Johnson's Letters of Emily Dickinson in three volumes, published by the Belknap Press of Harvard University Press in 1958.
      A scholarly edition is here an institutional"masculine"setting.
      Like the collections of cultural artifacts that are the focus of Clifford's Predicament, the scholarly or critical editions of Dickinson's writings available today mediate the reader's experience of her open, scriptible works by locking them into a specific interpretive framework and a stan-





Introduction  •  5


 dard(izing) bibliographical apparatus.  Driven on by the desire to establish a definitive, or "fixed," textan end requiring among other things the identification and banishment of textual "impostors," errors and stray marks a scholar-editor ends up domesticating a poet.  How do we apprehend an author's passage through a forever unfinished draft? "Our tools," Thomas H. Johnson wrote, referring at once to an editorial project that consumed more than ten years of his life and to the machinery of representation used by the New Criticism and the New Bibliography to produce an approved image of an author, "are method only."16
      An other, "feminine" discourse in the interstices between ecstasy and revolt may suddenly break out of the institutions of meaning, take leave of its textual authorities.  The method of the bibliographer is not the poet's method.


Figure 2. MS Am 1118.3 1i8c), by permission of The Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Contents without a Book

      There can never be an authorized edition of Dickinson's writings.  The gold imprimaturemblem or face of Harvard's authority stamped across the blue binding of Johnson's Letters (1958) is a false witness:
like displaced enunciations, the drafts and fragments escape from the plot of "pure scholarship" to reappear always outside the text proper and the law of the censor.17  Beyond the codes of the bibliographer, idolater of the book, the Codes of Bliss (P 1586) deliver Dickinson directly into the current of writing. Today editing Emily Dickinson's late writings paradoxically involves unediting them, constellating these works not as still points of meaning or as incorruptible texts but, rather, as events and phenomena of freedom.
      There are centrifugal forces at work in this edition: the drafts and fragments provisionally collected here continue to demonstrate their insusceptibility to collection, their resistance to bibliographical determination.  Presented or abandoned at the far limits of my commentary,





4 • Emily Dickinson's Open Folios


they break free of all explanation; displayed as they have descended to us a scattered estate, a strange excess they participate in and affirm an economy of pure change.  Ideally, then, the experimental edition will "answer" the commentary in another order(s): punctuated by contradictions, refigurations, and erasures, it is a counternarrative of the drafts' and fragments' intersection with history, their passage from hand to hand to institution, their mutilation, and their many translations into print culture.  Far from inhibiting our study of these writings, this format raises questions about narrative, genre, authorial intention, and chronology central to any consideration of Dickinson's work.

Hemispheres Reversed

In A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism Jerome J. McGann observes: "Introductions to a field of study are produced when scholars can command a generic treatment of the material.  At certain times, however, the field will be seen to have eluded, in various ways, . . . the basic working premises of the discipline. . . . At such periods scholars do not produce reliable guides because they are too busy exploring the fault lines of what they already know and experimenting with new models and ideas."18  This edition is an experiment, a process by which I hope to discover something unknown but in which all "proofs" remain provisional.
      Here facsimiles, diplomatic transcriptions, and annotations trace an eccentric path into and then away from a poet's work without ever solving the mystery of "original" or "final" intentions.  Every reader is a bibliographer-poet finding his or her own way toward the future by striking out in a different direction through the past. 
      Every reading illuminates the impossibility of a perfect return to a scene of writing, circa 1870. 
      All editions are of unknown texts.






1.  George Steiner, Real Presences (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 147.
2.  Gore Vidal, The New Left Review; quoted in Jerome J. McGann, The Textual Condition (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1991), 95. The full quotation reads, "We live in a literate world, but we live at another great hinge in history, when we are going beyond writing."
3.  Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Genealogy, History," in The Foucault Reader; edited by Paul Rabinow (New York: Pantheon Books, 1984), 83.
4.  See George Bornstein's "Introduction," in Palimpsest: Editorial Theory in the Humanities, edited by George Bornstein and Ralph G. Williams (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1993), in which he calls for a "poetics of editing." In One Way Street (London: NLB, 1979) Walter Benjamin proposes a way of writing in which fragmentary quotations and material from different contexts, what he calls "close-ups," replace discursive argumentation.  In the space of a parenthesis he observes, "(And today the book is already, as the present mode of scholarly production demonstrates, an outdated mediation between two different filing systems.  For everything that matters is to be found in the card box of the researcher who wrote it, and the scholar studying it assimilates it into his own card index)" (62). Benjamin's work, as J. Hillis Miller has pointed out, anticipates the technology of the hypertext (Illustration [London: Reaktion Books, 1992]).  For a theoretical overview of editing and the electronic media, see Peter L. Shillingsburg, Scholarly Editing in the Computer Age: Theory and Practice (Athens and London: University of Georgia Press, 1986).
5. Keith A. Smith, Text in the Book Format. Book No. 120 (self-published, 1989), 58; emphasis added.
6.  R. W. Franklin, "Introduction," in The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, 2 vols. (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1981), ix. In his essay "The Emily Dickinson Fascicles" (Studies in Bibliography 36 L 1983]: 1-20), Franklin emphasizes the private nature of Dickinson's form of publication: "The fascicles, although they may have served as surrogate publication for a poet who never willingly consented to print, were constructed for





293 • Notes to Pages 3-5


 herself" (16). In Franklin's dating schema the fascicles span the years 1858 to 1864; the sets range in dates from 1864 to the mid-1870s.
7.  This phrase is the title of Sharon Cameron's recent book Choosing Not Choosing: Dickinson's Fascicles (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992). Cameron's work-the first full-scale critical study of the packets-is a major projection of Dickinson scholarship.
8.  Jonathan Arac, "F. 0. Matthiessen and American Studies," Critical Genealogies: Historical Situations for Postmodern Literary Studies (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987), 159.
9.  Cameron, Choosing Not Choosing, 24.
10.  Rainer Maria Rilke, 'The First Elegy," in The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke edited and translated by Stephen Mitchell, with an introduction by Robert Hass (New York: Vintage Books, 1984), 155.
 11.  See Susan Howe, "Some Notes on Visual Intentionality in Emily Dickinson," HOW(ever) 3,110.4 (1986): 11-13; "These Flames and Generosities of the Heart: Emily Dickinson and the Illogic of Sumptuary Values," Sulfur 28 (Spring 1991): 134-55 and The Birth-mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (Hanover, N.H., and London: Wesleyan University Press, 1993); Martha Nell Smith, Rowing in Eden: Rereading Emily Dickinson (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1992); and Sharon Cameron, Choosing Not Choosing.  Mary Jo Salter's essay "Puns and Accordions: Emily Dickinson and the Unsaid" (Yale Review 79:188-221) and Jeanne Holland's essay "Scraps, Stamps and Cut-Outs: Emily Dickinson's Domestic Technologies of Publication," in Cultural Artifacts and the Production of Meaning, edited by Katherine O'Brien O'Keefe and Margaret J. M. Ezell (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1994) both add significantly to our understanding of order in Dickinson's writings.
12.  Cameron, Choosing Not Choosing, 6.
13.  Howe, The Birth-mark, 2.
14.  David Porter, Dickinson: The Modern Idiom (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1981), 7.
15.  James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1988), 229.
16.  Thomas H. Johnson, "Establishing a Text: The Emily Dickinson Papers," Studies in Bibliography (1952-53): 32; reprinted in Art and Error: Modern Textual Editing, edited by Ronald Gottesman and Scott Bennett (Bloomington: Indiana State University Press, 1970), 145. Though I depart from Johnson's conclusions, particularly his claim that it is "theoretically possible, if enough manuscripts existed, and if each manuscript used enough letters in sufficient combination, to track down the dates of the limits of composition within a given week" (29), his essay provides invaluable information about the textual dilemmas facing the editor of Dickinson's poetry.
17.  See Donald H. Reiman, "The Four Ages of Editing," Romantic Texts and Contexts (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1987), 98: "I denominate this school of textual scholars the Brazen Age of editing because of the too sanguine hopes they, at least for a time, entertained about the results obtain-





294 • Notes to Pages 3-5


able through systematic application of fixed principles to a wide variety of literary texts.  The keynote of Bowers's Principles of Bibliographical Description is 'system.'"
18.  Jerome J. McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983), 2.