Molly Shannon Wants You to Know the Truth About Emily Dickinson

Historians in the News
tags: pop culture, history, literature, Emily Dickinson

What made you want to do a movie about Emily Dickinson?

I was interested in telling the truth about her life. We’ve been told that she was a recluse spinster who never wanted to be published. But [some scholars] came to realize that a lot of her poems were written to her brother’s wife, Susan. It makes you look at her poetry in a whole different way.

Is Wild Nights with Emily a thought experiment–What if this theory about her love life were true?–or is it an attempt to correct history?

It’s an attempt to correct history. I think there was so much shame around these feelings during that time, which Emily expressed in her letters. I think after Emily became a successful writer after her death, people were worried that if the public found out she loved women, the public who adored the old-maid-recluse story would stop reading her poetry.

Dickinson said she knew something was poetry if she felt “physically as if the top of my head were taken off.” How do you know if something is funny?

If I am performing it, it feels great, like heart-pounding passion. When comedy really sings and moves and clicks and rings, it makes my heart pound.

Read entire article at Time

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