Wallace Stevens Revisited: "the Celestial Possible"
"Janet McCann adds an important dimension to our understanding of Stevens in this updated look at his oeuvre, from Harmonium (1923) and Idea of Order (1936) through the Collected Poems (1954) and Opus Posthumous (1957). The interplay of opposing forces in Stevens's work, she argues, reflect a lifelong search for a new metaphysic, a replacement for the Christianity he discarded in his youth. Reading poems from every phase in his life, McCann finds evidence of the intellectual rigor of this search. In Harmonium, she finds Stevens stripping away the vestiges of childhood religious beliefs; in The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), she reveals his approach to atheism; and in later poems she finds a revitalized religious inquiry, leading to the poet's deathbed conversion to Roman Catholicism. In many poems, McCann reveals Stevens's reverence for a natural order of things, expressed in both meter and image, and in others she shows us his beliefs about art as a spiritually transformative process." "Based in part on new biographical material, McCann's analysis diverges from much New Historicist and Marxist criticism by focusing on Stevens's preoccupation with things of the spirit, and on his progression toward the metaphysical. Of special interest are her reflections on Stevens in his early milieu, and his interest in the experimental movements of the avant garde, such as Dadaism and cubism. Stevens's poetry, she shows us, brought the aesthetics of these new art movements to bear on some very old questions. Her study brings us important new insights into the work of an artist for whom, as he put it, "the major poetic idea in the world is and always has been the idea of God.""--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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