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OfLettersAndofSciences

Of Letters and of Sciences

Welcome! This is a blog about literature and books that are critical to any social discourse: literary, cultural, racial, gender-based. A blog for humanists, scholars, the curious, and thinkers and thinkeresses.

A Tale of Two Dickinsons

The Complete Poems - Emily Dickinson, Thomas H. Johnson The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition - Emily Dickinson, R.W. Franklin

So this might be persnickity. It is simultaneously persnickity and completely valid.

 

I don't know which version of the collected works of Emily Dickinson to buy.

 

This is valid. Completely valid. It's not just book covers and presentation. Really!

 

There's the aptly but ultimately deceivingly named The Compete Poems of Emily Dickinson edited by Thomas Johnson. Then there's the slimmer The Poems of Emily Dickinson edited by R.W. Franklin.

 

One would think the tome (quite thick in pages; the thing is like a brick), would indeed be the complete poems of Emily Dickinson, right? But no. Not to split hairs---okay, I'm splitting hairs, but the book's description says that it includes "the original texts of all 1,775" poems of Dickinson.

 

Okay, so 1,775.

 

But then, perchance---what, ho!

 

The Poems of Emily Dickinson says that it includes "all extant versions by Emily Dickinson--1,789 poems in all".

 

After finding the definition of "extant" ("all existing/surviving copies"; I would think that would be covered in the word "COMPLETE")...

 

Hold on. 1,789? That's 14 more than "Complete Poems" has! FOURTEEN MORE!!!

 

So.....the version that doesn't have the word "Complete" in the title has more poems in it than the book that does.

 

Whyyyy do these dilemmae spring into my life? Oh, why?

 

I want every scrap of paper ever written/published by Dickinson! Her whimsical ones and her dark ones! Her long prose-y ones and her short, haiku-like ones! ALL OF THEM!

 

I realize that the difference in poems between the two books is not enormous. BUT IF A BOOK SAYS IT'S THE COMPLETE POEMS, IT SHOULD BE THE COMPLETE POEMS. ><.

 

I either go with the very thick, classic-looking "Complete Poems", which are not, in fact, complete; or I go with the jazzier, more modern-covered "Poems of", which actually seems to have all the different types of her poetry.

 

To complicate matters, the longer "Complete Poems" is less expensive than the slimmer "Poems of". So, basically, this is very, very simple.

 

What's a woman to do?

 

Also, please note my very clever post title. I am very proud of it. ^.^