Wallace Stevens: The Early Years, 1879-1923

Joan Richardson, Author Beech Tree Paperback Book $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-05401-4
Stevens claimed that he never read other poets, yet, as this massive biography reveals, he held imaginary dialogues with his favorite ""man-poets,'' Hardy and Plato among them. A successful insurance executive and man of letters, he had a precarious sense of self and attempted in his verse to define an ideal self abstracted from his humdrum, bourgeois world. Combining psychobiography and criticism, this first half of a two-volume work argues that Stevens made his wife into a mother figure because he was unable to integrate the feminine into his psyche. The poet comes across as demanding, priggish, miserly, aloof, but the real subject here is the process of his mind, how his arresting images crystallized, and how they amplified or concealed his inner self. Richardson's dense, wordy study rewards the patient reader. No other book gets into the workings of Stevens's imagination so deeply. The author, a professor at City University of New York, has uncovered fascinating material on Stevens's meeting with Dada artist Duchamp and his borrowings from commedia dell'arte. (September 19)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1986
Release date: 09/01/1986
Hardcover - 2 pages - 978-0-688-06860-8
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