Wallace Stevens

Wallace Stevens, 1879–1955, American poet, b. Reading, Pa., educated at Harvard and New York Law School, admitted to the bar 1904. While in New York, he mingled in literary circles and published his first poems in the magazine Poetry. Moving to Connecticut, he was associated after 1916 with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, and from 1934 until his death he served as its vice president. A master of exquisite, gravely lyrical verse, elegant in form and style, Stevens was concerned with creating some shape of order in the world's "slovenly wilderness" of chaos and with creating a life "unsponsored" by God but enriched by language and the imagination. These ideas are expressed in his earliest volume, Harmonium (1923), which contains many of the best known of his poems, including "Sunday Morning," in which a woman stays home from church and the spiritual remains, without God, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird," and "The Emperor of Ice Cream." His ideas are developed subsequently in Ideas of Order (1936); The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937); Parts of the World (1942); Transport to Summer (1947), which includes the long poem "Notes toward a Supreme Fiction," in which Stevens elaborates on the poet's role in creating the fictions necessary to transform and harmonize the world; The Auroras of Autumn (1950); The Necessary Angel, essays (1951); and Opus Posthumous (1957). His Collected Poems (1954) was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

See his Collected Poetry and Prose, ed. by F. Kermode and J. Richardson (1997); letters, ed. by H. Stevens (1966); biographies by H. Stevens (1977), J. Richardson (2 vol., 1986–88), and P. Mariani (2016); studies by H. Vendler (1969), H. Bloom (1980), and E. Cook (2009).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Wallace Stevens: Selected full-text books and articles

A Reader's Guide to Wallace Stevens By Eleanor Cook Princeton University Press, 2007
Great American Writers: Twentieth Century By R. Baird Shuman Marshall Cavendish, vol.11, 2002
Librarian's tip: "Wallace Stevens" begins on p. 1467
The Auroras of Autumn By Wallace Stevens Alfred A. Knopf, 1950
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things By James Longenbach Oxford University Press, 1991
Wallace Stevens and Poetic Theory: Conceiving the Supreme Fiction By B. J. Leggett University of North Carolina Press, 1987
The Comic Spirit of Wallace Stevens By Daniel Fuchs Duke University Press, 1963
Wallace Stevens: Images and Judgments By John J. Enck Southern Illinois University Press, 1964
Wallace Stevens and the Mode of the Ordinary By Phillips, Siobhan Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 54, No. 1, Spring 2008
An "Impossible Science": Wallace Stevens and the Ecstatic Mind By Skibsrud, Johanna Mosaic (Winnipeg), Vol. 45, No. 1, March 2012
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Angels of Reality: Emersonian Unfoldings in Wright, Stevens, and Ives By David Michael Hertz Southern Illinois University Press, 1993
Solid Objects: Modernism and the Test of Production By Douglas Mao Princeton University Press, 1998
Librarian's tip: Chap. 4 "Wallace Stevens"
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