- From the Editor
The Emily Dickinson Journal is pleased to publish this special issue on editing and the letters. The 90s have witnessed an intensification of concern for the materiality of Dickinson's writing. We have been struck by certain material facts about Dickinson: that her writing exists almost entirely in manuscript; that she regularly suggested alternative words or phrases to her poems and produced alternative versions of her poems; that she wrote letters with poems attached to them, embedded in them; that her writing forms possess such fluidity that we cannot precisely say what is prose and what is poetry. As a consequence, the way she wrote, the literal textuality of her writing, informs what and how we read when we are "reading Dickinson." This concern has been emphatically addressed from the perspectives of both editing and reading theory, enterprises that are integrally related.
The publication of William Shurr's New Poems of Emily Dickinson in 1993 provoked, although it did not inaugurate, this attention to editing and the letters. Shurr's creating "poems" from Dickinson's "prose" excited, enraged, pleased, and/or incited Dickinson readers. People wanted to attack him, correct him, applaud him. And they have done so. This special issue of The Emily Dickinson Journal uses Professor Shurr's work as a catapult for engaging with the complex questions raised by the materiality of Dickinson's writing. Both the energy and the passion aroused by the New Poems have fueled the current interest in the processes of editing Dickinson, the processes of reading Dickinson. This issue focuses on her letters, because at present they are the locus for these stimulating and illuminating debates. [End Page vii]