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The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imaginationby Wallace Stevens
Inscrutable poet-of-ideas Wallace Stevens is a deepening favorite of mine. This, despite the fact that I don't always understand his poems. This, despite the fact that even when I think I might understand, the precision of a world glimpsed in a "jar from Tennessee" is not an easy thing to reconcile. Still, I never weary of my attempt to gather the enigmatic Stevens ever closer. These seven essays, which were "written to be spoken" (with the exception of one) and "intended to disclose definitions of poetry," are invigorating forays into the possibilities of imagination and the poetic form. Intrepid readers will find a dollhouse view of Stevens's poetics — and perhaps their own. An arbitrary suggestion: Start with the sixth essay, "Imagination as Value."
About the Author
Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879, and died in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 2, 1955. Although he had contributed to the Harvard Advocate while in college, he began to gain general recognition only when Harriet Monroe included four of his poems in a sepcial 1914 wartime issue of Poetry. Harmonium, his first volume of poems, was published in 1923, and was followed by Ideas of Order (1936), The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), Parts of a World (1942), Transport to Summer (1947), The Auroras of Autumn (1950), The Necessary Angel (a volume of essays, 1951), The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954), and Opus Posthumous (first published in 1957, edited by Samuel Frued Morse; a new, revised, and corrected edition by Milton J. Bates, 1989). Mr. Stevens was awarded the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library for 1949. In 1951 he won the National Book Award in Poetry for The Auroras of Autumn, in 1955 he won it a second time for The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1955. From 1916 on, he was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, of which he became vice president in 1934.
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