The Comic Spirit of Wallace Stevens

By Daniel Fuchs | Go to book overview

Chapter 5: "The Ultimate Plato"

In the previous chapter we have spoken of reality as the social scene and the relation of this reality to the life of the imagination. The other meaning of the word "reality" in Stevens is the world of natural phenomena and what we make of them. This aspect of reality is also seen in its ambiguity, at once friendly and indifferent, exalting and painful. Stevens confronts the social and natural reality with a thorough secularism and an insistence upon the primacy of these realities as the conditions of the truth. Not that they may not be or even should not be changed by our perceptions of them. But whatever fiction we may evolve, it will be a fiction which takes these realities as its base. The evasions and distortions of natural reality help make the social reality a dull one. By exorcising these evasions, comically and otherwise, Stevens is helping to create a fiction for Oxidia.

-120-

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The Comic Spirit of Wallace Stevens
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Chapter 1: Stevens' Comic Milieu 3
  • Chapter 2: "The Comedian as the Letter C 31
  • Chapter 3: the Sacred Irreverence of Wallace Stevens 62
  • Chapter 4: "This Venerable Complication" 94
  • Chapter 5: "The Ultimate Plato" 120
  • Chapter 6: "Paradise Unknown" 155
  • Selected Bibliography 193
  • Index 197
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