The gardens of Emily Dickinson

Judith Farr

Book - 2004

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Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press 2004.
Main Author
Judith Farr (-)
Other Authors
Louise Carter (-)
Physical Description
xv, 350 p.
Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index.
  • Introduction
  • 1.. Gardening in Eden
  • 2.. The Woodland Garden
  • 3.. The Enclosed Garden
  • 4.. The "Garden in the Brain"
  • 5.. Gardening with Emily Dickinson
  • Epilogue: The Gardener in Her Seasons
  • Appendix. Flowers and Plants Grown
  • Abbreviations
  • Notes
  • Acknowledgments
  • Index of Poems Cited
  • Index
Review by Choice Review

This is the first major study of flowers and gardening in the life and work of Emily Dickinson, and even the devoted reader of Dickinson will be surprised at how very important flowers were to the poet. More than a third of her poems and half her letters refer to flowers. In her lifetime Dickinson cultivated substantial gardens around her home in the spring and summer and in a conservatory on her father's property year round. Her intimacy with flowers and the practice of gardening became a rich source for analogy and metaphor in her writing. In addition to the literary scholarship, including biographical and poetical analyses, Farr (emer., Georgetown Univ.) brings to this discussion, the book includes a fascinating chapter by Carter, a professional horticulturalist, who through a study of letters and memoirs tries to re-create Dickinson's gardening methods and to identify the kinds of flowers she raised. Although discussion of the emotional and psychological well-being Dickinson must have gained from gardening is not a prominent feature of this narrative, the reader cannot help but speculate on the effects of this healthy activity on the poet. This well-illustrated book will delight both scholars and gardeners. ^BSumming Up: Essential. All collections. P. J. Ferlazzo Northern Arizona University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

In this first major study of our beloved poet Dickinson's devotion to gardening, Farr (The Passion of Emily Dickinson) shows us that like poetry, gardening was her daily passion, her spiritual sustenance, and her literary inspiration. Farr makes a strong case for the connection between the poet's verse and the flowers she cultivated, arguing that she used both to maintain social relationships, particularly in later life as she grew more reclusive. But rather than speaking generally about Dickinson's gardening habits, as other articles on the subject have done, Farr immerses the reader in a stimulating and detailed discussion of the flowers Dickinson grew, collected, and eulogized. She also explores the meanings and associations Victorian society gave to these flowers and explains how Dickinson personalized these meanings over time. The result is an intimate study of Dickinson that invites readers to imagine the floral landscapes that she saw, both in and out of doors, and to re-create those landscapes by growing the same flowers (the final chapter is chock-full of practical gardening tips). Readers are left to wonder whether they could ever succeed in transplanting Dickinson's muse, even by following these instructions. Highly recommended for all academic libraries.-Maria Kochis, California State Univ. Lib., Sacramento (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.