• These Fevered Days

  • Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson
  • By: Martha Ackmann
  • Narrated by: Martha Ackmann
  • Length: 9 hrs and 21 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (31 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

An engaging, intimate portrait of Emily Dickinson, one of America's greatest and most-mythologized poets, that sheds new light on her groundbreaking poetry.

On August 3, 1845, young Emily Dickinson declared, "All things are ready" - and with this resolute statement, her life as a poet began. Despite spending her days almost entirely "at home" (the occupation listed on her death certificate), Dickinson's interior world was extraordinary. She loved passionately, was ambivalent toward publication, embraced seclusion, and created 1,789 poems that she tucked into a dresser drawer. 

In These Fevered Days, Martha Ackmann unravels the mysteries of Dickinson's life through 10 decisive episodes that distill her evolution as a poet. Ackmann follows Dickinson through her religious crisis while a student at Mount Holyoke, her startling decision to ask a famous editor for advice, her anguished letters to an unidentified "Master", her exhilarating frenzy of composition, and her terror in confronting possible blindness. Together, these 10 days provide new insights into Dickinson's wildly original poetry and render a concise and vivid portrait of American literature's most enigmatic figure.

©2020 Martha Ackmann (P)2020 Recorded Books

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Captivating But Too Much Information

THESE FEVERED DAYS is a well-thought-out delivery about Emily Dickinson’s life and work. It is satisfying that the author dug deep to answer questions about Emily Dickinson that I want to know. I struggled to stay focused on the reading material, because there’s a bit of information overload. The author packed extraneous information that was distracting into the text. I read most chapters twice, in an effort to absorb and focus on the book’s objective of highlighting ten important days in Dickinson’s life. The author, who is the narrator, has a clear and distinct voice that works well for presenting examples of Dickinson’s writing, including parts of letters and some choice verses.

2 people found this helpful

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A biography that breathes

When Emily Dickinson submitted some of her poems to the editor Thomas Wentworth Higginson, she asked: “Should you think it breathed?” Martha Ackmann’s biography, written with a lifetime of studied and tender attention to Dickinson’s verse, makes the poet come alive; she breaths again as Ackmann narrates her life in ten days. Although Dickinson remains “that rare and strange creature,” in the words of Higginson at her funeral service, she is more down-to-earth, sensitive, and admirable after reading Ackmann’s accomplished biography.

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Good overview

It was a nice overview of Emily’s life, but I felt that the book left me wanting for more. We know Dickinson was mysterious, and the writer acknowledges that. While we will never really know Emily’s true motivation for seclusion, the book didn’t really explore Emily’s relationship to Sue Gilbert as important to her writing. It acknowledges Sue, but I feel many scholars are afraid to explore Emily’s sexuality. There’s enough evidence in her lifetime of her love expressed to Sue, and in many occasions of her using male pronouns to refer to herself. As much as writers want to avoid this part of Dickinson’s life, I would have liked to see the writer at least acknowledge this important part of Emily’s life.

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Great Insight Into America's Great Femaile Poet

I didn't expect to like this and I didn't expect to find it insightful but there isn't much out there about Emily Dickenson, so I gave this one a whirl. At first, the performance seemed dull, but, I kept listening, thinking at least this accournt is factually tough and accurate. No lame speculating. It did not take long though before Martha Ackmann hooked me. Then, everything about this tightly focused biography became enjoyable. How rare and wonderful--just like the poet herself!