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Emily Dickinson

First, the fact that there is Good News should be acknowledged. My lit agent (Merrilee) and I received this e-mail late yesterday from Liz, my editor at Penguin:

Good news for you - the print order just came through and we're printing a very respectable 7,000 copies of Daughter of Hounds. (Your pre-order campaign worked beautifully, Caitlín!)

Which is to say thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has pre-ordered the novel. See, you can make a difference. My "street team" is the draddest. And if you haven't already pre-ordered, this is to ask you to please consider doing so soon. The initial print order is an important battle won, but just a battle, not the war, which still yawns before me.

Anyway, good news aside, yesterday was a somewhat awful and excruciating day, having begun with an earlier e-mail from Liz, telling me that we couldn't use the four Emily Dickinson quotes in Daughter of Hounds because, even though Dickinson died in 1886, they're under copyright. She asked if I wanted to replace them with something else. No, I said. I want to use those quotes, which I was very, very certain were not actually under copyright. And this all gets quite muddled and complicated. Let me see if I can perchance explain (and any Emily Dickinson scholars reading this will be excused for skipping ahead):

Upon her death in 1886, Emily Dickinson had published very few of her poems. Something like ten. After she died, however, two friends — Mabel Loomis Todd and literary critic Thomas Wentworth Higginson — published three volumes of her poetry between 1890 and 1896. Then, early in the 20th Century, Dickinson's niece, Martha Dickinson Bianchi, produced further collections, reprinting much of the Todd-Higginson books, as well as previously unpublished material, in The Single Hound (1915), The Life and Letters of Emily Dickinson and The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1924), and Further Poems of Emily Dickinson (1929).

Now, here's the deal. Dickinson poems published prior to 1923 are in public domain and may be quoted without infringing upon anyone's valid copyright. And, in truth, most of her poems were published after her death, but well before 1923.

However, here's where things get confusing and sticky — in 1955, Thomas H. Johnson published The Poems of Emily Dickinson, which presented new transcriptions of the poems first published by Todd, Loomis, and Bianchi. Todd and Loomis had made changes in Dickinson's punctuation, standardizing it and sometimes misinterpreting it. Johnson corrected the texts, and his The Poems of Emily Dickinson has been adopted as the standard for Dickinson scholarship. A division of
Harvard licenses the Johnson copyright from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst (or maybe it's Amherst College, I'm not entirely sure which). And they have a reputation for suing anyone who reprints Johnson's versions of the poems without permission. I cannot claim to say exactly how this works, since Johnson merely reprinted Dickinson's work, and I cannot even begin to see how that makes it his own, but there you go. US copyright law says it's so, so it is so.

However, as I pointed out to Liz early yesterday, I'd not quoted from Johnson, but thrice from the Loomis and Todd texts and once from one of the Bianchi books. And since the Bianchi book was The Single Hound (1915), I was in the clear on copyright. But legal wanted proof, in the form of photocopies from those original editions demonstrating that my quotations had not drawn upon the Johnson text. So, this meant I had to go back to Emory University, back to the Woodruff Library, for the second time in as many days (having finally gone on Tuesday), and show my ID to the security guy, etc. & etc. Which I did, though it ate up the entirety of a day which should have been spent either writing or preparing to write. I'd chosen those four quotes carefully, and I wasn't going to give up on using them without a struggle. To my great fortune, the Woodruff Library has copies of both The Single Hound and the first of the Todd and Loomis volumes (1915, Poems). Between these two books, I had all four of the poems I'd quoted. The texts as they were printed pre-Johnson, pre-1955, pre-1923. Today, Spooky will photocopy the pages and send them to Penguin, and the four Dickinson quotes will appear in Daughter of Hounds as per my original intent. No copyrights, however dubious, will have been violated. Only a day lost. And I even took photos of the adventure, just so I could share the splendid tedium with my readers. They are not exciting photos. They are behind the cut:



Behind the Carlos Museum, near the library.

Twice in one week. It's like being in college again.

Spooky calls the elevator. I cannot explain the garish purple walls.

In the stacks.

A-ha! Proof! Take that, Penguin lawyers!

Once of James Joyce's death masks, displayed in the library's atrium, badly photographed by me.


After Emory, we got some hot and spicy Thai for dinner, then headed home just as a wonderful thunderstorm stuck Atlanta. We've been needing the rain. There's not much to the rest of the evening — I played more Drakengard 2 (the world has ended, but the end was only the beginning), watched Project Runway (and I am sick and disgusted at this whole mess with Jeffery), and read and read and read. I have this habit of reading many books at once, mostly non-fiction because I mostly read nonfiction. Currently, I am reading, simultaneously, the following:

Only Revolutions by Mark Z. Danielewski
Visions of Mars by Olivier de Goursac
The Monuments of Mars: A City of the Edge of Forever by Richard C. Hoagland (the less said about this awful book, the better; research for The Dinosaurs of Mars)
Cauldron of Hell: Tunguska by Jack Stoneley
The Amber Forest by George Poinar, Jr. and Roberta Poinar
The Geology of Mars edited by a bunch of folks
Mars: A Tour of the Human Imagination by Eric S. Rabkin
Tyrannosaurus SUE by Steve Fiffer
Magnificent Mars by Ken Croswell
The Spiral Dance by Starhawk (20th anniv. ed.)

Danielewski, planetology, palaeontology, pop culture, and Wicca — all at once, and I can still walk a straight line.

Okay. Must go attend to busyness, e-mail, and maybe even some actual writing. Oh, wait. The platypus says sheheit will be looking for comments today (and perhaps answering them), because I'm boring herhimit sideways, so, yeah. Surely there's comment fodder here somewhere. Don't be shy.

Comments

( 24 comments — Have your say! )
lunablack
Oct. 12th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
As I'm afraid I've said out loud while reading this...day-um! What a frelling lot to go through for a few quotes from someone who's been dead quite a while and who probably wouldn't mind a bit anyway. Glad you found all the pieces for the lawyers and whatnot tho.

::continues grumbling from previous day, periodically shrieking, "Estate of, my ass!", off into the distance::

(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:37 pm (UTC)
I love your Klaus Nomi icon.

Yep. It's several shades of drad.
thingunderthest
Oct. 12th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
I've become really annoyed with the way copyright works in the US, with renewable copyrights, copyrights of translations, etc.

Of course it is marginally better then patent law in a few places.

Congrats on the pre-sale totals.
So we shoot for 10,000 on the next pre-order?
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:38 pm (UTC)
So we shoot for 10,000 on the next pre-order?

10K would be nice... :-)
thingunderthest
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:49 pm (UTC)
'right then, see what we can do.
jtglover
Oct. 12th, 2006 06:23 pm (UTC)
Glad to hear about the DoH printing! That must come as welcome news after the recent folderol with other books going (if briefly) out of print.

I'm also glad to hear that Emory came through on the poems. Copyright is getting crazier every year, and this incident demonstrates the tangible benefit of a library holding onto multiple printings/editions of authors' works. Likewise, the benefit of keeping physical copies vs. storing digitized versions and tossing the physical part.

The pictures of Woodruff were nice. I'd applied there for a position as a Humanities/History librarian but was unfortunately just rejected. Could be worse, though, as I'm interviewing this month for positions in Richmond, VA and Salem, MA. Salem should be fun, given my hotel will be in Marblehead, both of which I last saw ten years ago on a Lovecraft-heavy visit to New England.
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:40 pm (UTC)
Likewise, the benefit of keeping physical copies vs. storing digitized versions and tossing the physical part.

Indeed. The first thing I did was point them to the relevant volumes at Project Gutenberg as proof that I was quoting the early, pre-1923 texts, but production and legal wouldn't accept Project Gutenberg as a valid source.
mellawyrden
Oct. 12th, 2006 06:54 pm (UTC)
I like those purple walls. They look sort of eggplant in the picture.
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
I like those purple walls. They look sort of eggplant in the picture.

Yurgh. That shade of purple may be good for many things, but not the walls of a library.

Says I.
mellawyrden
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:54 pm (UTC)
True. I wasn't thinking about context. I've been on an eggplant jag lately.
setsuled
Oct. 12th, 2006 07:05 pm (UTC)
I cannot explain the garish purple walls.

Hmm. There's no excuse for a wall like that to not be grape flavoured.
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
There's no excuse for a wall like that to not be grape flavoured.

Perhaps I'll lick it next time and see.
tactileson
Oct. 13th, 2006 02:13 am (UTC)
Hmm, looks like the exact shade of purple that my living room is... Though, sad to say it's not grape flavored. Oh, and yes, do tell Spooky that I think her hair looks totally drad. I've been thinking that for a while now (since she's been using it for her icons) and I just forgot to mention it.
sovay
Oct. 12th, 2006 07:49 pm (UTC)
Today, Spooky will photocopy the pages and send them to Penguin, and the four Dickinson quotes will appear in Daughter of Hounds as per my original intent. No copyrights, however dubious, will have been violated. Only a day lost.

Well, and now I know something about the manuscript tradition of Emily Dickinson.

Congratulations on the initial print order!
(Deleted comment)
greygirlbeast
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
Libraries are my oxygen.

...and oxygen is like love, as we all know.

Love is like oxygen
You get too much you get too high
Not enough and you're gonna die
Love gets you high


Ergo...
mellawyrden
Oct. 12th, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
That's the first picture of Spooky I've seen with her dreads! it looks beautiful.
greygirlbeast
Oct. 13th, 2006 12:04 am (UTC)
hat's the first picture of Spooky I've seen with her dreads! it looks beautiful.

Thank you for saying so. I've been telling her the same thing.
stardustgirl
Oct. 13th, 2006 01:43 am (UTC)
I saw the word "copyright" and the tension in my shoulders ratcheted up several notches, then I saw the tree photos and it went down a bit. Our will be losing all their leaves soon - it's officially freezing here now. *sigh*

I love that you can still hold a copy of a book published in 1915. I hope there is some sort of guardian angel / benevolent fairy / watchdog looking out for those old books that libraries no longer have room for. The electronic copies are great for just keeping the information, but to be able to read the actual physical book is an enhanced experience. Or maybe I'm just a nerd. ;-)
greygirlbeast
Oct. 13th, 2006 03:36 am (UTC)
Our will be losing all their leaves soon

Thankfully, we have a few more weeks to go. The trees are just beginning to show colour.

I love that you can still hold a copy of a book published in 1915.

It's marvelous. And not just 1915, but the 1890 Todd/Higginson volume, too.

The electronic copies are great for just keeping the information, but to be able to read the actual physical book is an enhanced experience. Or maybe I'm just a nerd.

Somewhere online yesterday, putting all the pieces of this puzzle together, came across someone, a book dealer, selling the complete set of Todd/Higginson Dickinson books for a total of $35,000. Some nerds have more money than others, alas.
scarletboi
Oct. 13th, 2006 05:32 am (UTC)
My oldest books are both very strange.

The oldest is Geschichte der Reformation, which is a German translation of a French book. The publication date is 1874, and it's still printed in the old blackletter. It's a gorgeous (if beat to hell) old book I found at a thrift shop.

The other is from 1916, and it's the Industrial and Social History of England.

Oh, and I have a copy of Oscar Wilde and the Yellow Nineties by Frances Winwar. Unfortunately it's the revised edition, with all the "libel" about Wilde's homosexual relations excised, and a rather snotty preface by Lord Alfred Douglas... Though the preface alone makes it worth having. I just wish I had the other version as well.
chris_walsh
Oct. 13th, 2006 02:06 am (UTC)
And another good thing today: your remind-in-eering led me finally to make my pre-order for DoH and Threshold (2 copies each), which I'd kept farting around about and not actually making...but now I know I'm getting some mail come January! Looking forward to the books, ma'am.

Are you and Spooky still hoping (mayhap even planning) to attend Convergence in Portland in May? Or is it too early to ask?
greygirlbeast
Oct. 13th, 2006 03:39 am (UTC)
(2 copies each)

Thank you! :-)

Are you and Spooky still hoping (mayhap even planning) to attend Convergence in Portland in May? Or is it too early to ask?

Honestly, I don't know. Months ago, I e-mailed someone on the committee, indicating my interest in participating, and no one ever wrote back.
chris_walsh
Oct. 13th, 2006 07:26 pm (UTC)
Nice to see you feeling loose enough to use emoticons...

I hope a trip works out for you two. And that other trips go well for you from now on.
eldritch00
Oct. 13th, 2006 10:39 am (UTC)
I've never heard of it, but what's so awful about the Hoagland book?
( 24 comments — Have your say! )

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