The Brain is wider than the Sky

This is an excerpt from A Loaded Gun, by Jerome Charyn, who writes that Emily Dickinson was not just “one more madwoman in the attic,” but rather a messianic modernist, a performance artist, a seductress, and “a woman maddened with rage—against a culture that had no place for a woman with her own fiercely independent mind and will.”

She played the role of little girl that nineteenth-century women were meant to play. But she was far from a little girl, even if she told Higginson, “I have a little shape—it would not crowd your Desk—nor make much Racket as the Mouse, that dents your Galleries—” [Letter 265] It was one more act of seduction. She must have sensed her own monstrous powers—this Vesuvius at Home. The Brain, she would write, is wider than the Sky.

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