Wallace Stevens: Images and Judgments

By John J. Enck | Go to book overview

1 IMAGES

Realism is a corruption of reality.

WALLACE STEVENS1

L'histoire littéraire est tissue comme l'autre de légendes diversement dorées. Les plus fallacieuses sont nécessairement dues aux témoins les plus fidèles. Quoi de plus trompeur que ces hommes véridiques qui se réduisent A nous dire ce qu'ils ont vu, comme nous l'eussions vu nousmêmes? Mais que me fait ce qui se voit? . . . Tout ce qui compte est bien voilé; les témoins et les documents l'obscurcissent; les actes et les oeuvres sont faits expressément pour le travestir.

PAUL VALÉRY2

BEGIN, EPHEBE, by perceiving the idea ∣ Of this invention," Wallace Stevens at one point recommends, then tantalizingly reverses the paradox, "this invented world, ∣ The inconceivable idea of the sun." [380a] Anyone who, in turn, tries to look directly at Stevens' own poetry may discover that three obstacles, quite apart from its inherent brilliance, interpose themselves before, and partially eclipse, it. One problem, persistent for all literature, assumes a special aspect with him: biography. Except for meager publicized data, his life remains independent from his books, and, although one might ordinarily rejoice at not having to trim away extraneous frills, the few items 3 bulk beyond their transparent significance. Secondly, he perhaps belongs to what literary history, bent on tagging influences and trends, has already enshrined as a seminal

-3-

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Wallace Stevens: Images and Judgments
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Acknowledgments x
  • Contents xiii
  • 1 - Images 3
  • 2 - On the Harmonium 43
  • 3 - On a Blue Guitar 94
  • 4 - On Old Lutheran Bells 145
  • 5 - And Judgments 198
  • Notes 246
  • Index 253
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