“ . . . the Dickinson family happened to include among its members one of the most brilliant poets in the English language. Shakespeare, Blake—who else is as rivetingly inexplicable yet as charismatically inviting? The great virtue of Gordon’s biography is that it makes Dickinson the person—sister, friend, seducer, adversary—seem as scary as her poems. The inevitable liability is that Dickinson the maker of poems remains as elusive to us as she was to the people who knew her best.”
James Longenbach reviews Lyndall Gordon’s biography of Emily Dickinson, Lives Like Loaded Guns in Ardor and the Abyss in the Nation.