In Search of Emily: Journeys From Japan to Amherst
by Masako Takeda

ISBN: 0-9744503-3-2
Perfect Bound, $17.00
Publication Date: July 2005
6 x 9 inches, 170 pages

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In Search of Emily: Journeys from Japan to Amherst is Takeda’s account of several journeys to the United States from Japan to study the poetry, and life, of Emily Dickinson. Takeda not only recounts how she discovered the places Dickinson lived, but she also relates how Dickinson touches her life and the lives of people she met along the way. Takeda also explores her relation to her native Japan from her vantage point in the U.S. and what it means to live abroad as a Japanese woman. She also tackles the problem of learning, living and writing in a second language.

In Search of Emily chronicles the transformation of a young Japanese girl’s blossoming interest in poetry into a lifelong pursuit after the enigmatic EmilyDickinson. Takeda artfully binds the contemporary with the past, proving that perhaps Osaka and Amherst aren’t so far apart and that a Japanese reader may strike to the very heart of understanding Dickinson and her work. Her readings of Dickinson’s poems are invigorating and personal, and her conversations with other Dickinson specialists and enthusiasts are sure to provide insights for both new readers and longtime lovers of Amherst’s reclusive muse.

From In Search of Emily...

From Chapter 1: Discovering Emily

I began to learn English in junior high school and, in general, my peers and I found it interesting and we liked the subject. However, in most cases, including mine, this fascination did not last long. I simply could not remember the spelling of all those words. I could manage in the beginning, but after a few months, it was hopeless.

Pronunciation was also a problem. Why is the ti in tiger not pronounced the same as the ti in Tim? And at the end of the word tiger, why is the r not pronounced with a ra, ri, ru, re, or ro sound? I found the rules incomprehensible and the explanations unconvincing. And in the beginning, with my limited vocabulary, everything looked so inconsistent. That is, after all, one of the distinguishing characteristics of the English language — its irregularities.

I scored only twelve points out of twenty on one of the vocabulary tests during the first term I studied English. It was such a great shock that I resolved to make every effort to memorize words. Only then did the structure of a new sentence like “Who is that lady?” — which we were to learn at the beginning of the second semester — become clear to me. And so I narrowly escaped hating English...

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