The American Scholar

A Proximity to Greatness

AFTER EMILY: Two Remarkable Women, and the Legacy of America’s Greatest Poet

BY JULIE DOBROW

Norton, 384 pp., $29.95

THERE MUST HAVE been a thousand village poets in Massachusetts in the 19th century, half of them dying of heartbreak, half of loneliness; they disappeared without a trace. Yet the work of another village poet, Emily Dickinson, survives, almost by accident, thanks to the guile and stubborn will of a perfect stranger named Mabel Loomis Todd. In her new book, Julie Dobrow, a senior lecturer at Tufts University, serves as a kind of fiercely clever detective in stitching together Todd’s remarkable influence and all

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