BOOKTALK: A Rose for Emily

Interview by Paul Hond
The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson: A Novel
By Jerome Charyn ’59CC
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CM: Do you see Dickinson’s life as tragic?

JC: No, because in her own way she had an awful lot of fun. Her inner life was extraordinary, and she was very involved with the family, with her brother’s children. We see it as tragic only in the sense that it was tragic for most women who had no voice in their own time. Yet here is a woman who insists on her own voice.

CM: Would marriage have changed her as an artist?

JC: I think the poetry came out of a kind of delirium of imagining what sexuality was like. It’s imagining the cruelty of passion. If she had been married and there wasn’t love, it wouldn’t have made any difference.

CM: In a way, you’ve been married to her for most of your life.

JC: She’s such an exciting poet, such an exciting presence. I can’t think of any other writer that I would feel that way about. Maybe Shakespeare.

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