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But that's what Terence Davies has done for Emily Dickinson in "A Quiet Passion ," a fiercely intelligent, handsome and affecting rendering of Dickinson's extraordinary, ordinary life from her teenage years to her death in 1886.
In the week following Dickinson's death on May 15, 1886, Lavinia Dickinson found what she described as a locked box containing seven hundred of her sister's poems.
The Master letters may have been among them, for they were clearly not with the correspondence, which Lavinia destroyed upon discovery.
Of primary importance, the Master letters nevertheless have had an uncertain history of discovery, publication, dating, and transcription.
And the world only seems to disappoint Emily as time goes on. She falls madly in love with a married pastor, but he does not return her affections. But while the visuals and steady shots are often relaxing, at the heart is a searing and soulful performance of an anguished artist born into the wrong time.
Nixon gives a new life and a womanly dimension to someone who, beyond her haunting words, we only really know visually as a perpetual teenager.
This publication, issued at the centennial of Emily Dickinson's death, presents the three letters in chronological order, based upon new dating of the manuscripts, and provides their texts in facsimile as well as in transcriptions that show stages in the composition of each letter. There are the 3 letters included with it, and also a facsimile of the letters is on the opposite page from the typed letter.