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by Tony Sharpe

eBook Wallace Stevens: A Literary Life (Literary Lives) download ISBN: 0312220693
Author: Tony Sharpe
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; First Edition edition (April 1, 2000)
Language: English
Pages: 236
ePub: 1291 kb
Fb2: 1902 kb
Rating: 4.5
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Category: Literature
Subcategory: History and Criticism

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In this appreciative but not uncritical study, Sharpe tries to see the man behind the mandarin, whilst remaining alert to the challengingly sumptuous austerities of one of America's most significant poets.

Series: Literary Lives. in 20th Century Literary Criticism (Books). Paperback: 189 pages. ISBN-13: 978-0333452783. Product Dimensions: . x . inches. Tell the Publisher! I'd like to read this book on Kindle.

Wallace Stevens, one of this century's foremost American poets, has been both praised and blamed for the "difficulty" of his poems and has bemused those seeking to reconcile the sobriety of his career as an insurance lawyer with the extravagance of his poetry.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is a poem from Wallace Stevens's first book of poetry, Harmonium

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is a poem from Wallace Stevens's first book of poetry, Harmonium. The poem consists of thirteen short, separate sections, each of which mentions blackbirds in some way. Although inspired by haiku, none of the sections meets the traditional definition of haiku. It was first published in October 1917 by Alfred Kreymborg in Others: An Anthology of the New Verse and two months later in the December issue of Others: A Magazine of the New Verse.

Eliot: A Literary Life (Macmillan Literary Lives). Publisher : Palgrave Macmillan. Product Category : Books. Read full description. See details and exclusions. Sold bybestsellersuk (47455)99. 8% positive FeedbackContact seller. Registered as business seller. Eliot: A Literary Life by Tony Sharpe (Paperback, 1991).

Tony Sharpe WALLACE STEVENS. Alasdair D. F. Macrae W. B. YEATS.

Volumes follow the outline of the writers’ working lives, not in the spirit of traditional biography, but aiming to trace the professional, publishing and social contexts which shaped their writing. Tony Sharpe WALLACE STEVENS.

Wallace Stevens is one of America’s most respected 20th century poets. Encouraged by his father, Stevens devoted himself to the literary aspects of Harvard life. By his sophomore year he wrote regularly for the Harvard Advocate, and by the end of his third year, as biographer Samuel French Morse noted in Wallace Stevens: Poetry as Life, he had received all of the school’s honors for writing.

Tony Sharpe, Wallace Stevens: A Literary Life (London: Macmillan, 2000, £1. 9). ISBN 0 333 65031 X. HENRY CLARIDGE (a1). University of Kent at Canterbury.

Wallace Stevens, one of this century's foremost American poets, has been both praised and blamed for the "difficulty" of his poems and has bemused those seeking to reconcile the sobriety of his career as an insurance lawyer with the extravagance of his poetry. In this book, Tony Sharpe explores the symbiotic and antagonistic relations between Stevens' literary life and his working life as senior executive. He outlines the personal, historical, and publishing contexts which shaped his writing career, and suggests how awareness of these contexts sheds new light on the poems. Stevens was uncompromising in his insistence on the extraordinary importance of poetry to the ordinary world, and in this appreciative but not uncritical study, Sharpe tries to see the man behind the mandarin, while seeking not to simplify the sumptuous austerities of a major modernist writer.
Comments: (2)
Gavidor
Thumbtom's very interesting review on this page led me to read Tony Sharpe's book, which is full of commonsense insights into Stevens' life, work, and methods. For instance, on page 4: "The importance of his job to Stevens is attested by the simple fact that he never retired from it...." And on page 180: "He resisted until quite late requests that he should make a recording of some of his poems; and I take it that all this points to the continuing difficulty Stevens had in reconciling the notion of poetry as a public art with its very private function in his own emotional and spiritual economy...." Sounds obvious, but I've never seen these points made in such simple terms before. Although this book was published in 2000, which was the heyday of postmodernism, Sharpe uses a traditional approach, telling the story of Stevens' life and growth as a poet, and tackling the notorious problem of what the poems are about by seeking clues in Stevens' personal circumstances and correspondence, as well as in the diction of the poems themselves.

I might add that I find Frank Kermode's "Wallace Stevens" (1960) similarly perceptive and refreshingly direct. Kermode's book is an example of the rewards to be had by going back to evaluations of the poet closer to his own time. Often the artist's contemporaries have the most astute observations.
Gaudiker
I wish, as a young man, leaning from my window looking out upon Desolation Row, that I'd seen Wallace Stevens instead of "Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot fighting in the Captain's Tower." "I wish, I wish, but I wish in vain to sit simply in that room again." I would have been a better poet. Dylan stated the simple truth as it appeared in The Sixties. Only two men were known as poets then, and the pair fought it out in aerie regions whose sheer irrelevance denied entry to the rest of us down here. The baleful influence of that pair on each other and upon us, managed to smother the mysterious freshening lilacs upon the crystal fountains that flourish yet in the fond laughter within the creations of Wallace Stevens.

Instead, when I was seventeen, I found, on the lowest shelf, after searching the public library : "The Selected Poems Of T. S. Eliot". The grey, mean and Bauhaus livery of Faber and Faber. I opened it. The numbering of the lines there as if it was Holy Writ. If only there had been nearby, for a lover of Keats as I was then and remain, one of the books that Stevens had paid to bind. One of them is for sale today as I write: "IDEAS OF ORDER: Some small chips to glassine; else a fresh copy. The slipcase is lacking one side panel. 63 pp. 8vo, Publisher's presentation inscription in pencil on the half-title to poet and critic Ruth Lechlitner. £7.500." It was the sneering Eliot who ensured that, as long as he had any influence in the matter, no book of Stevens was ever published in Britain. Stevens never wrote, even as a boy, execrable garbage like "Confessions of the March Hare".

Tony Sharpe loves the stern work of Stevens and is inspired by his mysteries and respectful of what Stevens, in his own "domination of black", built upon nothing more than words, themselves, of course, black. This is a volume small in stature but written, as Sharpe says, "after twenty years of wanting to write it". Luckily with help from Lancaster University, who paid for "the unexpectedly high US permission fees" Tony Sharpe's book is leavened with honour for the holiness of the poet's calling, finding it always worth remarking that Stevens himself was concerned never to make money from his work.

The poems of Stevens are strange. Does anyone "understand" them? The first that made any difference to me was "Sea Surface Full of Clouds". Sharpe does not rate this, describing it as "highly mannered"; whatever that means. Reading it came very late in the day for me, around 1987, after it was praised somewhere. Harold Bloom (Poems of our Climate) thinks this a very poor poem; but Harold Bloom never helped anyone understand anything unless he misunderstood it himself; and you only have to read him along with Beverley Maeder to realise that the misunderstanding of the work of Stevens is lucrative enough to have been raised to an almost balletic art form.

The book opens with a heartfelt description of the disappointments and the sanctions afforded by any pilgrimage to any poet's home. "On holiday in Connecticut last summer, one hot afternoon I paid a visit to Wallace Stevens's former house on Westerly Terrace, Hartford, and to Elizabeth Park nearby.. There is nothing to declare the house's link with the poet, and as I stood in the (possibly uncharacteristic sunshine), with my ever-so-slightly-bemused family and our escorting American friends, the place's anonymity struck me both as poignant and appropriate. The plaqueless house and the modest park in which he had so regularly walked were eloquent, in their omission of precisely that factor of the extraordinary his poetry can evoke, even by denoting its absence." This is the finest writing as well as the finest criticism. A few pages of introduction later he offers the penumbra of this, his own book, to his wife named Jane, like mine," who saw that I was moved by seeing Stevens' house, and may, now, see more clearly why."

Opposite the contents page the work is set with three small jewels of homage and the book itself finishes the parure with the author's own ruby heart as he quotes that deeply resonant quotation from Emma " A mind lively and at ease, can do with seeing nothing, and can see nothing that does not answer."

Stevens is certainly a tough pill to swallow at times. But after a while, a long while it has to be said, for me personally, the words and the works one by one begin to scarify upon our flesh some sense. Once you know that, basically, Stevens tried to pare reality away from our imaginations as we experience it to its bare essentials, you can see the phosphor light. It's a strange land illumined with it. "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven". Subtly but insistently there is, in the title alone, a frisson of Heaven.

Like all academics Sharpe has to show that he is one of the boys with words like "anthropocentric constructivism","foregrounding", "originary", "enacts" and the word "narrative" whenever possible. He should be pitied; but he should be castigated for seducing innocents with locutions of his own that include "reassuringness" "uneuphonious" "accommodatingness" "altitudinosities".

Sharpe says about "Idea of Order at Key West" "We do not know what she sings about". He misses the type of insight that Stevens was at such pains to surprise us with. The first line of this poem is "She sang beyond the genius of the sea". This line alone could take YEARS of thought to try and unravel. Read it again; but LISTEN to the sound of the word SHE and now think again. This is what sings beyond the genius of the sea. That great body of water could never have known it would sound like this. As Stevens says a line or two later "Since what she sang was uttered word by word".