By Eleanor Cook
Wallace Stevens is without doubt one of the significant poets of the 20 th century, and likewise one of the so much demanding. His poems might be fantastic of their verbal brilliance. they can be shot via with lavish imagery and wit, proficient via a lawyer's good judgment, and disarmingly unforeseen: a making a song jackrabbit, the seductive Nanzia Nunzio. in addition they spoke--and nonetheless speak--to modern issues. notwithstanding his paintings is renowned and his readership keeps to develop, many readers encountering it are baffled by means of such wealthy and weird poetry.
Eleanor cook dinner, a number one critic of poetry and professional on Stevens, supplies us right here the fundamental reader's consultant to this significant American poet. prepare dinner is going via each one of Stevens's poems in his six significant collections in addition to his later lyrics, in chronological order. for every poem she presents an introductory head word and a sequence of annotations on tricky words and references, illuminating for us simply why and the way Stevens used to be a grasp at his paintings. Her annotations, which come with either formerly unpublished scholarship and interpretive comments, will profit rookies and experts alike. cook dinner additionally offers a short biography of Stevens, and provides an in depth appendix on tips on how to learn smooth poetry.
A Reader's consultant to Wallace Stevens is an essential source and the fitting spouse to The gathered Poems of Wallace Stevens, first released in 1954 in honor of Stevens's seventy-fifth birthday, in addition to to the 1997 assortment Wallace Stevens: accumulated Poetry and Prose.
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Wallace Stevens is likely one of the significant poets of the 20th century, and likewise one of the so much tough. His poems should be remarkable of their verbal brilliance. they can be shot via with lavish imagery and wit, expert through a lawyer's common sense, and disarmingly unforeseen: a making a song jackrabbit, the seductive Nanzia Nunzio.
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Additional resources for A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens
He believed in “what Mr. Filene calls ‘up-to-date capitalism’ ” (L 292, 1935). He believed in “social reform and not in social revolution” (L 309, 1936). His sympathies lay with the A. F. of L. O. ” He said that he was no “revolutionist” even if he did “believe in doing everything practically possible to improve the condition of the workers,” as well as supporting “education as a source of freedom and power,” and regretting that “we have not experimented a little more extensively in public ownership of public utilities” (L 351, 1940).
He had always found “the ﬁgure of the rabbi . . ” Why? Because this is the ﬁgure of someone “devoted in the extreme to scholarship” and also using it “for human purposes” (L 786, 1953). Some ﬁgures in Stevens’s work, like the rabbi and the scholar, are parts of his own self that act as mentors. He was touched when young by Chénier’s poem, “La Flute,” describing how a master tutors a young ﬂute player, and he translated it (L 124, 1909). He could also laugh at his own tutoring self, the “Devil of sermons, within me”—this after hectoring his bride-to-be (L 124, 1909).
For him, as for others, Christianity was no longer compelling. Like many another, he mused on what might take its place as a force of authority. At ﬁrst, he seemed to suppose, like Matthew Arnold, that poetry could take the place of religion, a vague humanist view of the kind that Eliot fought (see “Arnold and Pater” in his Selected Essays). Some such attitude lies behind Stevens’s invention of the phrase “supreme ﬁction” in 1922 (“Poetry is the supreme ﬁction, madame,” “A High-Toned Old Christian Woman”).
A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens by Eleanor Cook