Emily Dickinson, British Abolitionism and Other Letters to the Editor – The New York Times


To the Editor:

Since, as Ian Frazier points out in By the Book (Nov. 28), it only has 27 words, it’s disappointing that the Book Review didn’t find room to print Emily Dickinson’s “To Make a Prairie.” One of those words is “revery.” It’s fascinating to imagine the president — present or former — being required to ponder, and perhaps to enact, that word each day. I’m guessing that the current president already does.

Lois Lowry
Falmouth, Maine

The writer is the author of “The Giver.”

To the Editor:

I enjoyed Adam Hochschild’s review of “The 1619 Project” (Nov. 21), but was disappointed to see him deploy a critique that is easily debunked. He claims that British abolitionism “didn’t come to life until a decade later” than the American Revolution.

A quick internet search yields books and scholarly articles by Brycchan Carey (2005) and Rena Vassar (1970) that trace an upwelling of abolitionist sentiment agitating the highest levels of church and state in pre-1776 Britain. William Warburton, the bishop of Gloucester, preached a sermon attacking slavery in 1766, a document that the Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet referenced in “A Caution and Warning to Great Britain” (1767). Other landmark antislavery texts include Granville Sharp’s “A Representation of the Injustice and Dangerous Tendency of Tolerating Slavery” (1769) and the founding Methodist John Wesley’s “Thoughts Upon Slavery” (1774).

“The 1619 Project”’s claim that “growing calls to abolish the slave trade” in Britain predated the American Revolution is supported by a great deal of written evidence.

Ronald Briggs
New York

To the Editor:

As a historian of publishing, I appreciated Tina Jordan’s survey of “a history of self-improvement, told through advertisements in the Book Review” (Nov. 28). Those of us who have made careers out of writing, editing, publishing and occasionally reading books will be pleased to learn, perhaps too late in life, that books can be an aid to impressing girls.

As an addendum to Jordan’s piece, I would note that in the same era in which the Pocket Classical Library and Haldiman-Julius’s remarkable Little Blue Books came out, the most successful set of self-education books ever published in America appeared: the Harvard Classics, known popularly as “Dr. Eliot’s five-foot shelf of books,” edited by Charles W. Eliot, retired president of Harvard, and published in 50 volumes by P. …….

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/10/books/review/emily-dickinson-british-abolitionism-and-other-letters-to-the-editor.html

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