The Wicked Sisters: Women Poets, Literary History, and by Betsy Erkkila

By Betsy Erkkila

This provocative examine of the lives and works of Emily Dickinson, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, Adrienne wealthy, and Gwendolyn Brooks specializes in the historic struggles and adjustments between and inside girls writers and between feminists themselves. Erkkila explores the stricken family ladies writers skilled with either masculine and female literary cultures, arguing that renowned feminist perspectives usually romanticize and maternalize ladies writers and their interrelations in ways in which successfully make stronger the very gender stereotypes and polarities which at the start grounded women's oppression. learning the a number of race, classification, ethnic, cultural, and different destinations of ladies inside a selected social box, Erkkila deals a revisionary version of women's literary background that demanding situations contemporary feminist thought and perform besides a lot of our basic assumptions concerning the lady author, women's writing, and women's literary historical past. unlike the tendency of prior feminists to heroize literary foremothers and groups of ladies, Erkkila makes a speciality of the ancient struggles and conflicts that make up the background of ladies poets. with out discounting the old energy of sisterhood, she seeks to reclaim women's literary heritage as a website of rivalry, contingency, and ongoing fight, instead of a separate area of untroubled and basically cooperative accord between girls. Encompassing many of the historic significations of "wickedness" as damaging, robust, playful, witty, mischievous, and never righteous, The depraved Sisters explores the ability struggles and discord that mark either the heritage of girls poets and the background of feminist feedback.

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Additional resources for The Wicked Sisters: Women Poets, Literary History, and Discord

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Defining herself against the conventionally Christian, benevolent, and true womanly lives chosen by her friends, at times Dickinson could be openly mocking, even hostile: "I presume you are loving your mother, and loving the stranger, and wanderer, visiting the poor, and afflicted, and reaping whole fields of blessings," she wrote to Abiah Root in one of their last exchanges (Letters 1: 99). Even in her relatively untroubled relationship with Elizabeth Holland, Dickinson made it clear that Holland's choices—husband, marriage, motherhood, and what she called her "sunshiny" God—were not her own.

Dickinson's syntactical construction might be paraphrased to read: we married our selves when we married each other. Sue's "Vision" in June appears to telescope two events: her profession of faith in August 1850 and her marriage to Austin in July 1856. Associating their relationship with the creative bloom of summer, Dickinson experiences her loss of Sue to both religion and marriage as a kind of death in which Sue's life is "yielded up" to the masculine and heterosexual orders of man and God. She overcomes her own experience of death and waste by yielding herself— not to man or God—but to the "light" and call of her poetic muse: And overtaken in the Dark— Where You had put me down— By Some one carrying a Light— I—too—received the Sign.

I would not exchange it for all the funds of the Father" (The Letters of Emily Dickinson 2: 351, hereafter referred to as Letters), she wrote Elizabeth Holland, in words that set an economy of affectional exchange among women in opposition to a religious and marketplace economy regulated by the "funds of the Father," both earthly and spiritual. For Dickinson heaven was a site not of personal salvation but of restoration to a lost community of friends. "How happy if we may be one unbroken company in heaven," she wrote to Abiah Root when she was only sixteen (Letters 1: 28).

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