Wallace Stevens and Poetic Theory: Conceiving the Supreme Fiction

By B. J. Leggett | Go to book overview

5

RESISTING THE
INTELLIGENCE
Stevens, Mauron,
and a Theory of Obscurity

Assumptions about poetry's necessary inaccessibility to the intellect begin to emerge conspicuously as theme or figure in Stevens's verse at about the point when his own style becomes most disruptive—with Parts of a World and Notes toward a Supreme Fiction in 1942. Although he had already gained a reputation for obscurity with his earlier volumes, the sixty-three poems in Parts of a World introduce into the Stevens canon the first sustained indecipherability, which continues through Transport to Summer (1947) and The Auroras of Autumn (1950) before disappearing into the clear and barren style of his last poems in The Rock. In the manner in which Eliot noted the adjustment of the canon necessitated by the appearance of the really new work, the opacity of the poems published between 1942 and 1950 makes Stevens's earlier volumes appear suddenly lucid. It is usually with Parts of a World that the casual reader of Stevens's poetry surrenders in dismay, returning with some degree of confidence only with the verse of The Rock. I am concerned here with two aspects of Stevens's obscurity—the theoretical basis for the disjunctive nature of his verse, especially as this relates to his reading of Mauron's Aesthetics and Psychology, and the manner in which the theory informs the theme, figuration, and style of the later poems.

"The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully": so Stevens begins one of his characteristic poems about poems, an exercise in theorizing with the unlikely title "Man Carrying Thing" (CP, 350). The aim of the poem is ostensibly to illustrate its opening pronouncement through a two-part analogy: first, a con

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Wallace Stevens and Poetic Theory: Conceiving the Supreme Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 224

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.