The Symbols and Pre-analysis Assumptions

In 1969, 25 years after having started his translations of Dickinson’s poems into German and after 25 years of studying and recording her secret language, Hans was ready to start work on his dictionary of symbols. He had identified some 3850 terms possessing double meanings or being capable of being aligned with such, of which he selected 253 words which seemed to him most significant. Before starting his detailed analysis he wrote what he called “pre-analysis assumptions,” starting with the symbols which appeared most often, such as day (203), sun (165), eye (158), man (145). Having worked for so long at this subject it is obvious that most of these assumptions would be confirmed by his further analyses of the poems (about ten years later). Yet, at this time he still puzzled over the correct meanings of some of these symbols, and his subsequent studies led him to new insights.

These pre-analysis assumptions therefore represent the state of his knowledge in 1970. Later findings were no longer included in this dictionary, but found their expression in the subsequent analyses of the 1173 poems, which Hans took up in 1978, 1980 being his most productive year.

Hans had crosschecked these assumptions by reanalyzing in detail his original meanings for every instance where a symbol appeared in any of Dickinson’s poems. In the data presented on this website, we quote these pre-analysis assumptions as they were finalized by Hans, and present a few samples of his symbol analysis. The complete analysis of major symbols, such as day, comprise more than fifty typewritten pages, and the total untranscribed material comes to approximately 10,000 US legal size pages. We are providing opportunities for those with full access to the archives to help us with these transcriptions, which we will then incorporate into the archives. Sponsors interested in helping to advance this task would be highly welcome.

Pre-analysis Assumptions

father, gold, grace, noon, place, sight, sleep, slow, spirit, sunset