Studies in European and American Cultures Issue 1
1994-09-01 発行

創作の軌跡 : エミリ・ディキンスンの詩の異稿研究(1)

The Trace of Composition : A Study of Emily Dickinson's Variant Readings (1)
Inada, Katsuhiko
The Poems of Emily Dickinson edited by Thomas H. Johnson includes "variant readings critically compared with all known manuscripts." Dickinson scholars have usually treated those variant readings as mere referential materials for their study, but we assume that a new possibility will develop in Dicikinson studies if we regard them as part of Dickinson's texts which is no less important than the poems adopted in Poems.

What will a study of Dickinson's variant readings reveal? We presuppose that it will reveal the actual conditions of her creative activity. Dickinson's different manuscripts and suggested changes are the documents which tell us how she led a life of a poet writing and rewriting poems and sending them to her relatives and friends. It will also reveal her creative process from the initial stage of composition to the final stage. Most importantly, it will reveal the poet's thoughts, psychology and verbal consciousness that worked when she was engaged in rewriting her poems. It may further reveal the influences of past or contemporary poets, and even Dickinson's gender consciousness.

The present paper reports only the preliminary work in tracing Dickinson's creative activity. First, the problem of the text was considered. Then the 'variants' of the poems were defined and classified. Finally how the editor of Poems adopted the poems out of different manuscripts was observed.

Since about 48% of Dickinson's poems do not have any form of variants, about 52% of the 1775 poems deserve our examination. By 'variant readings' we mean not only those poems with suggested changes, but also those manuscripts which were not adopted in Poems.

The 585 poems which have suggested changes deserve close examination because the suggested changes in them give the reader interesting clues to the working of a poetic mind. To take "One Joy of so much anguish" (P-1420) for example, we can infer from its 18 suggested changes that Dickinson wanted to make the meaning of the poem clearer or that, not satisfied with the banality of 'Quick of Wo,' she wanted to use stronger or more shocking words.

The unadopted manuscripts of the 357 poems also deserve attention. Although most of the changes between the different manuscripts of a poem are changes in form such as stanza division, line division, the use of capital letters, commas, periods, dashes, exclamation marks, quotation marks, italics and underlines, there are many other significant changes which may suggest, for example, the character of a private message of a poem.

A detailed examination of the variant readings will be made in the next paper.