INTRODUCTION TO WALLACE STEVENS by Henry W. Wells

INTRODUCTION TO WALLACE STEVENS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A target of much literate accusation and too little literary appreciation, the works of Wallace Stevens have yet to receive the proper critical commentary. A poet whose intellectual stance penetrates the musical, sensuous elements of his verse, Stevens philosophized continually about the modern dilemma, its heroic possibilities, and the aesthetic imagination, his favorite theme of ""salvation."" Yet, his fondness for abstractions did not emasculate the rich use of ordinary language, sense imagery, and humorous contortions twisting appealingly through his lines. The longer verse essays, two of which are examined here, must be linked with the scores of shorter, better-known poems to recreate the coherency of the entire opera. The author of this ""introduction"" does not accomplish the necessary critical deed--his organization into themes and forms is too abstract, his observations repetitious and verbose, and his prose far too independent of the poet's lines. More of a lecture to be perused following a close reading of the poems, there is still no answer here to Stevens' challenge and his riddle. Not introductory at all, rather, a non-definitive postscript.

Publisher: Indiana Univ. Press