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The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XI (Much Madness)

It's... Madness Too

It’s… Madness Too (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith offered only a check on this one, which means I am stopping without the help of her usual notes.




Much madness is divinest sense


To a discerning eye;


Much sense the starkest madness.


’T is the majority


In this, as all, prevail.


Assent, and you are sane;


Demur, – you’re straightway dangerous,


And handled with a chain.



Edith: I could have really used a bit more help on this one besides a check.



Me: Craziness.  I can relate to operating outside of what it considered the norm. I do know that some of more famous people of history were considered crazy.  Think about DaVinci–helicopters, back then?  But no padded room from him. He was considered a genius.  So who decides the line between madness and genius? Emily notes that if you go with the crowd you are considered sane and should you go against the flow then you get clipped with the chain.  Did she speak from experience or observation?  Wearing white and going on permanent staycation probably put her on the chain gang.   I have read people referred to her as “The Myth,” which sounds like they knew her to be a bit odd, but were okay with it. Sane or Mad–it comes down to perspective, I think.





The Emily Project: Part One/Life: XII (I Asked No Other Thing)

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Deutsch: Thomas Wentworth Higginson (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Edith has deemed this one  an *.  Hmmm…


I asked no other thing,
No other was denied.
I offered Being for it;
The mighty merchant smiled.


Brazil? He twirled a button,
Without a glance my way:
“But, madam, is there nothing else
That we can show to-day?”


Edith: a cryptic asterisk, a light pencil underlining of “merchant” and “Mr Higginson” off to the side.


Me: Can I get a vowel, please?  Really.  Not much to go on here.  This is a giant puzzle. I get the sense of wish fulfillment, as if Emily were looking for something and didn’t quite get what she wanted.  Now, if Emily didn’t travel far from home Brazil would seem a mighty long way away.  Is Brazil a metaphor of sorts for wanting the impossible, and is the merchant trying to convince her Brazil is out of her reach.  By capitalizing “Being” I attach immediate importance, and naturally I think of God.  Did Emily ask God for something specific, yet did not receive the answer she wanted, perhaps with some disappointment having received all else she had asked.  Mr Higginson. I came across his name when initially researching about Emily and he becomes very important to her. I know he became a mentor and they corresponded over the years. Edith? Are you holding out on me?  What do you know about Thomas Wentworth Higginson?




We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program…

Right smack in my poetry textbook (Sound and Sense), as I thumbed through it for an assignment, lay stretched out on the page a poem that smacked of Emily D–yet proved to be a tribute.  Here goes:

“I Am in Danger – Sir – “

“Half-cracked” to Higginson, living,
afterward famous in garbled versions,
your hoard of dazzling scraps a battlefield,
now your old snood

mothballed at Harvard and
you in your variorum monument
equivocal to the end –
who are you?

Gardening the day-lily,
wiping the wine-glass stems,
your thought pulsed on behind
a forehead battered paper-thin,

you, woman, masculine
in single-mindedness,
for whom the word was more than a symptom —

a condition of being.
Till the air buzzing with spoiled language
sang in your ears of Perjury

and in your half-cracked way you chose
silence for entertainment,
chose to have it out at last
on your own premises.

Written by Adrienne Rich

Edith:? She’s not here for this one.  I wonder if she knew about Rich’s poem and all its delicious references to Emily Dickinson.

Me: Okay, here I plunge.  First off Higginson jumped out at me. Bang. Having just posted a poem that might have referred to him I was more than aware of his name.  Kind of like buying a red car and all of a sudden the world is filled with red cars on the road.

To look up: variorum (hah–I know what a snood is–do you?)

The second thing I noticed right away was the stylizing, being much like Emily’s with the snippets of vague references and those marvelous dashes and the flippant use of capitalization.  Rich knows her stuff.

Another thing I noticed that while the poem was about Emily Dickinson it very much reminded a singular poem.  I appreciate that kind of talent and ability.

I don’t think I have the energy today to try to understand all the references, allusions, and other literary I-should-knows in this poem.  I have promised myself that once I am done with the project I will dive deep into Dickinson.  Right now I am cautioning against *spoilers*, meaning I want to get to know Emily D without much in the way of someone sidling up to me and whispering, “Did you know?” Nope, I want to get to know Emily straight up on my own.

Does anyone know of other poems that are about Emily?

Thanks for joining my on this journey.


The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca...

The Dickinson children (Emily on the left), ca. 1840. From the Dickinson Room at Houghton Library, Harvard University. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Emily Project: Part One/Life–XIV (Some things that fly)

Bombus polaris, a polar bumble bee

Bombus polaris, a polar bumble bee (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Flying.  I give thoughts to flying.  How I would like to fly and how I am attracted to those things that can fly.  Big fat black bumblebees droning from flower to flower, swallows dipping and swerving about through the summer sky, and fireflies, although I’ve never seen one, I bet they are way cool to come across.

Apparently Emily D thought about flying as well.  Here’s thoughts on her XIV from Part One:

Edith: parentheses around the second stanza. Does that mean a special notation for that particular stanza–makes sense to me if it does.

Me: I like Emily’s short poems.  They tend to pack a quick punch, like a well-placed quip–I’m thinking of Elizabeth Bennet lines from her encounters with Mr. Darcy.

In the first stanza Emily pops off a few things that fly: birds, hours (brilliant!), the bumble-bee and she feels she doesn’t have to lament their passing, which is what elegy means to me, a poem of remorse of something no longer there (as in dead).

In the second stanza Emily talks about some things that don’t fly off, that hang around: grief, hills, eternity.  She says these things don’t “behooveth” her.  Hmm, I’ve come across behoove, as in doing things properly, but behooveth doesn’t come up on my on-line dictionary.  I wonder if Emily is putting a wordplay on “behoove” and on “moveth” making this a hybrid word.  What I hear her saying is sorrow, nature, and life after death are things that she can’t properly get worked up about.

In this stanza Emily gets tricky in her wording.  She says: There are, that resting, rise. I interpret that as acknowledging that some things, after a time, change from one state into another state. Or is she saying, “let’s put that aside for now”? She obviously can’t explain everything there is that she has questions about, like the sky–she knows she can’t explain the sky.

To me Emily is stating how she can’t change the way things are.  Life tends to be a big mystery in many areas of life.

As for Edith and her parentheses -I’m thinking she found comfort in the fact there Emily wrote how grief, hills, and eternity are always with us.  It seemed like a confirmation.

From bumblebees to eternity, Emily D knows how to cover all subjects.

SOME things that fly there be,—
Birds, hours, the bumble-bee:
Of these no elegy.
Some things that stay there be,—
Grief, hills, eternity:         5
Nor this behooveth me.
There are, that resting, rise.
Can I expound the skies?
How still the riddle lies!

An Adaptation That Makes Sense (and Sensibility)

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

Continuing on with my Sense and Sensibility adaptation binge, I wrapped up my mini film fest with the 2008 BBC version.  I was not prepared to like this one at all because BBC blew it so badly with the 1981 version, and I am a totes fan of the  1995 version.

I watched it at and have to admit it does a better job of making sense of JA’s novel of mixed up romances.

What I liked:

  • more actual dialogue and character development
  • actors closer in age to those of the novel characters
  • the mother–classy and nurturing
  • Edward, who seemed more believable than Hugh Grant’s version
  • including characters who had previously been left out, like Sir John’s wife and children and Lucy’s sister

What I didn’t like:

  • too much kissing!  I’m not against kissing, but JA didn’t have kissing in her novels
  • Elinor didn’t have the emotional range like Emma Thompson, especially when it looked like Marianne might die from her fever
  • Willoughby–much too young and spoiled.  He seemed more like a boy band member than a romantic rich kid who wants it all.

Overall, I prefer this version if wanting to “watch” the book, but Emma’s version is definitely the one I prefer for the cinematic thrill of watching true love take place.  And I love watching Willoughby riding away on his white horse (is that symbolic that he is a good guy gone wrong?)

Note:  This will be my last post on this site.  I meant to only post my NaNoWriMo novel and then I got caught up in the thrill of comments and followers.  Unfortunately, school commitments has taken its toll and one must go.  Since school is mandatory and blogging an option, I must give up blogging.

I appreciate your follows and comments and will keep the site up.  I won’t be posting anymore though.

Farewell (for now, perhaps)


P.S. I suggest popping over to for continuing Emily Dickinson and Jane Austen entries.



Jane Calling: Some Adaptations Make No Sense (or Sensibility)

English: Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen n...

English: Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen novel) ch 29 : Elinor read with great indignation Willoughby’s letter Français : Sense and Sensibility, (Jane Austen) Ch. 29 (illustration N° 14) Elinor découvre avec indignation le contenu de la lettre envoyée par Willoughby à Marianne, après leur rencontre au bal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Continuing on with my Sense and Sensibility marathon, I popped in the 1981 version–a BBC offering after watching the fabulous 1995 version.

Opinion? Dry, blah, and so unimpressed I flipped through Emma Thompson’s SandS book while watching.

Part of the problem, I suppose, is that this is an older production and meant for television, and probably didn’t have that big of a budget.  Another problem is Emma Thompson’s version happened to be magical.

If interested, here is my grocery list of dislikes about the 1981 version:

1. Where is Margaret?  How could they get rid of a sister?  Quite unkind in my opinion.

2. Acting is stiff and wooden.  I felt like I was watching one of our high school drama club productions (which isn’t fair, since we have a pretty decent drama department).

3.  The costumes were terrible.  They didn’t look at all Regency.  In fact, I couldn’t tell what period the style was supposed to be.

4.  Marianne came off as a spoiled brat instead of an impassioned girl.

5.  I couldn’t muster any compassion for Colonel Brandon and his unrequited love for Marianne (Alan Rickman spoiled that one).

6. Fanny’s shock over finding out about Edward’s engagement was laughably over-the-top in hysterics factor.

7. Edward chasing Elinor through the woods seemed a bit too dramatic. I wouldn’t think she would be running away from Edward upon finding out he’s finally available.

8. Willoughby’s confession scene quite pathetic–he came off as whiner, instead of a narcissistic cad. Then again, whining also showed his cad stripes.

9.  What happened to the happy ending?  Where’s the wedding?  I wondered if I missed the ending it stopped so abruptly.

10.  Okay, one good thing to say: Mrs Jennings still proved irritating.

Overall opinion?  Skip this version and stick with Emma.  I’m off to explore the 2008 Sense and Sensibility.

Watch this:                                                                                      Not this:

Sense and Sensibility Poster

image: IMDB

The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013

Jane Calling: Darcy and Liz Senselessly in Love

Today is the 200th anniversary of Pride and Prejudice, which is why I am writing about Sense and Sensibility.  Everyone will be extolling their la-de-dahs about P&P, so I’m writing about the forgotten firstie: Sense and Sensibility.

In my last post, I created a poll to see what you all thought about which book is better: Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.  Here are the results

I also said I would start my finally-free-from-finals weekend with a Sense and Sensibility marathon.  I began with Emma Thompson’s 1995 film adaptation.  apparently there hadn’t been an major film adaptation of a JA novel for fifty years until Ang Lee and Emma brought their version to the screen (although there had been a few TV ones).  To say it was a hit is a definite understatement.  Here’s the Wikipedia on it (please don’t tell Mrs. Fieldstone I’m using Wikipedia as a resource):

Sense and Sensibility
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ang Lee
Produced by Lindsay Doran
Screenplay by Emma Thompson
Based on Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
Starring Emma Thompson Alan Rickman Kate Winslet Hugh Grant
Music by Patrick Doyle
Cinematography Michael Coulter
Editing by Tim Squyres
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release date(s)
  • 13 December 1995 (1995-12-13) (United States)
  • 23 February 1996 (1996-02-23) (United Kingdom)
Running time 136 minutes[1]
Country United Kingdom United States
Language English French
Budget $16 million
Box office $134,993,774

Sense and Sensibility is a 1995 British-American period drama film directed by Taiwanese-American director Ang Lee and based on Jane Austen‘s 1811 novel of the same name Emma Thompson wrote the script and stars as Elinor Dashwood, while Kate Winslet plays Elinor’s sister Marianne. Actors Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman play their respective suitors.

Producer Lindsay Doran, a longtime admirer of Austen’s novel, hired Thompson to write the screenplay. The actress spent four years penning numerous revisions, working on the script between other films as well as into production of the film itself. Doran found studios nervous that Thompson was the credited writer, but Columbia Pictures eventually agreed to act as the film’s producer. Though initially intending for another actress to portray Elinor, Thompson was persuaded to undertake the part herself, despite the disparity with her character’s age.

The film garnered overwhelmingly positive reviews upon release and  received many awards and nominations, including three awards and eleven nominations at the 1995 British Academy Film Awards. The film received seven Academy Awards nominations, including Best Picture. Emma Thompson received two nominations, for Best Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay, winning the latter. As of 2012, Thompson remains the only person to have won both acting and writing awards at the Academy Awards, as she previously won the Best Actress award in 1992 for Howards End.

Sense and Sensibility contributed to a resurgence in popularity for Austen’s work, and led to many more film and television adaptations in the following years.

I adore this movie, although I get so irritated with Marianne, I want to shake her, especially how rude she is to Colonel Brandon.  Emma plays the forbearing sister part incredibly well.  I knew, as everyone else, that she was really too old to being playing Elinor, but her acting is absolutely perfect.  When Elinor lashes out at Marianne about having had to hide her hurts all those months, she still found the compassion to comfort her self-centered sister (Kate shows her own abilities in this part).

I even checked out Emma Thompson’s book about the movie, which is the screenplay and her running journal.  That’s for next postie.

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The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013