A Cure of the Mind: The Poetics of Wallace Stevens

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Black Rose Books, 2000 - Education - 212 pages
Theodore Sampson begins his compelling study by arguing that Wallace Stevens' (1859-1955) poetry defies interpretation, that his long poems, particularly, remain too open-ended for rational paraphrase. Most critics of Stevens, faced with his complexities, have none the less attempted to make critical discourse (if not sense) out of them. This has led, in Sampson's view, to critical excesses and undue deformation of language.
Drawing its essential insights from the perspectivist thought of Emerson, Nietzsche, William James, and Paul Valery, the book examines Stevens' deeply fragmented sense of self and the world as projected in Harmonium, and then proceeds to investigate the poet's stance as an Emersonian pragmatist or "connoisseur of chaos" who must constantly throw away the lights and write his poems in the dark - a valuation that stresses the dominant role of the irrational element in Stevens' verse.

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About the author (2000)

Dr. Theodore Sampson is Professor of American Literature at the University of Athens.

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