I have two partially contradictory suppositions in this paper. One is that critical objectivity is a myth; all critics unavoidably project their identity and needs onto that of an author and her text. In the best of the Transcendental tradition. the subject and object become fused. On the other hand. while I agree with reader-response critic Patrocinio Schweickart that all "reading is necessarily subjective" and with Jonathan Culler that "the meaning of a work is the experience of a reader" (qtd. in Schweickart). I would have you believe that there is more substantiation for my reading of Dickinson than there is, say, for Adrienne Rich's and Sandra Gilbert's. They both speak, in personal prose styles I am drawn to, of Dickinson's "volcanic" power; I find such unexplosive metaphors as bird, flower, little-girl, and gnome more central to my reading experience. This essay explores and explains why.



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