Secretaries of the Moon: The Letters of Wallace Stevens & José Rodríguez Feo

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Duke University Press, 1986 - Biography & Autobiography - 210 pages
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The letter from Jose Rodriguez Feo that prompted Stevens's poem was the third in a ten-year correspondence (1944-54) between the poet and the young Cuban, who quickly became Stevens's "most exciting correspondent." The two shared a Harvard education, both were anxious to see Stevens translated for a Cuban audience, and each had an enduring admiration for Santayana, whose awareness of the cultural tensions between the Northern and Southern hemispheres formed a basis for the protracted argument between Stevens as the practical, Protestant father and the passionate Rodriguez Feo. The Cuban's descriptions of his life at the Villa Olga, of his black-and-white cow Lucera and his mule Pompilio, delighted Stevens, as did his wide-ranging questions and pronouncements of literary matters. Unaware of the well-known Stevens reticence, Rodriguz Feo elicited a more informal, playful response than Stevens's other correspondents. Formal salutations soon gave way to "Dear Antillean," "Dear Wallachio."

Coyle and Filreis present the entire extant correspondence between the two men. The fifty-one Rodriguez Feo letters and ten of the numerous Stevens letters are printed here for the first time, and the exchange between the two is unusually complete. The work includes a critical introduction and complete annotation of the letters.

  

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Contents

The Letters
11
Origins 19441945
33
Putting Together a World 19451947
61
Dear Old Princeton 19481949
109
The Planet Pancreas 19491951
163
Vies Imaginaires 19511955
185
Index
205
Copyright

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About the author (1986)

Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) was awarded the Bollingen Prize in Poetry by the Yale University Library in 1949. In 1951 he won the National Book Award in Poetry for "The Auroras of Autumn"; he won it a second time for "The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens", which was also awarded the 1955 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Editor Holly Stevens was his daughter. Poet Richard Howard is University Professor of English at the University of Houston.

Beverly Jones Coyle was born August 2, 1946, in Miami, Florida, and is known for her literary criticism, short stories, and novels. After receiving a B.A. from Florida State (1968) and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska (1974), Beverly Coyle taught English at the University of Newcastle (Australia) and Vassar College (New York). She began writing through an assignment in college. Her first published works were nonfiction on the life and poetry of Wallace Stevens, entitled A Thought to Be Rehearsed: Aphorism in Wallace Stevens' Poetry and Secretaries of the Moon: The Letters of Wallace Stevens and Jose Rodriguez Feo. In the latter, Coyle examines the eleven-year correspondence of Stevens with Cuban critic Feo to uncover a personal aspect. The Kneeling Bus, a loosely woven collection of short stories, was Coyle's first fiction work. It is a memoir of Florida in the 1950s, a time when rural communities prevailed. In a later novel, Coyle writes about an older Floridian, her grandfather who cares for a son stricken by Alzheimer's.

Alan Filreis is Kelly Professor of English, faculty director of the Kelly Writers House, and director of the Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania. He is author of three other books, including "Modernism from Right to Left: Wallace Stevens, the Thirties, and Literary Radicalism".

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