This is a splendid book, and one to be treasured by Dickinson scholars and those interested in the history of taste and the transmission of a poet's reputation during the crucial years when her work was first published. Buckingham has gathered all the known public commentary on Dickinson, in the United States and in Britain, published in the 1890s, and his introduction to these materials is a model of clarity.
This work reprint, annotates, and indexes virtually all mention of Emily Dickinson in the first decade of her publication, tripling the known references to the poet during the nineties. Much of this material, drawn from scrapbooks of clippings, rare journals, and crumbling newspapers, was on the verge of extinction.Modern audiences will be struck by the impact of DickinsonÆs poetry on her first readers. We learn much about the taste of the period and the relationship between publishers, reviewers, and the reading public. It demonstrates that Dickinson enjoyed a wider popular reception than had been realized: readers were astonished by her creative brilliance.
Buckingham's compilation adds substantially to the bibliographical record on Dickinson, her defenders, and detractors. The volume also serves as a superb case study of how literary taste was defined and shaped in the late nineteenth century.
Since 1968 Dickinson scholars have been laboring mightily to strip away the varnish of interpretation laid down by earlier generations and get down to the poet herself. . . . Emily Dickinson's Reception in the 1890s is an essential contribution to the study of the cultural impact of the poet, and library research collections will be incomplete without it. . . . It is an impressive achievement in basic scholarship.
Buckingham's work is a joy, a work of dedicated, excellent scholarship, and is fascinating reading throughout.