“The Wreckage of Eden is a huge and dark fresco of an army chaplain’s journey through very difficult and troubling periods of American history (normally denied us in school), and all the while this fine angle of approach is like a slow cinematic zoom and track onto an elusive Emily Dickinson ensconced in her Amherst.”
The Brothers Quay, award-winning film directors
When U.S. Army chaplain Robert Winter first meets Emily Dickinson, he is fascinated by the brilliance of the strange girl immersed in her botany lessons. She will become his confidante, obsession, and muse over the years as he writes to her of his friendship with the aspiring politician Abraham Lincoln, his encounter with the young newspaperman Samuel Clemens, and his crisis of conscience concerning the radical abolitionist John Brown. Bearing the standard of God and country through the Mexican War and the Mormon Rebellion, Robert seeks to lessen his loneliness while his faith is eroded by the violence he observes and ultimately commits. Emily, however, remains as elusive as her verse on his rare visits to Amherst and denies him solace, a rejection that will culminate in a startling epiphany at the very heart of his despair.
Powerfully evocative of Emily Dickinson’s life, times, and artistry, this fifth, stand-alone volume in The American Novels series captures a nation riven by conflicts that continue to this day.
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