Wednesday, December 21, 2005
I just made the most interesting discovery while I was studying for exams yesterday! Emily Dickinson's sister's name was Lavinia. What a strange coincidence! Emily and her strange isolated writing, and her binding of her poems, and Shakespeare's Lavinia (from Titus Andronicus) based on the tragic Philomela (who after being raped and having her tongue cut out by her sister's suitor wove her story into a tapestry) who also had a sister Procne. Philomela was transformed into a nightingale at end of the tale and that's partly why the nightingale came to represent the inspired poet in the middle ages and renaissance. What a cool coincidence. There is just something about the figure of Philomela/Lavinia that haunts me. It's a horrific story. But that motif, of a woman who losses her voice, and (in Lavinia's case her hands as well) is symbolic of the woman writer. The brother's Grimm also told a story of the miller's daughter who losses her hands and is no longer able to communicate.