Helen Vendler reviews the new Wallace Stevens

September 2, 2009

Wallace Stevens Selected PoemsThere’s a new American edition of Selected Poems by Wallace Stevens, and I’ve been reading the review by Helen Vendler, guided to it by the invaluable Arts & Letters Daily. It sounds as though it is a great introductory volume (hard to reduce Stevens – it’s still over 300 pages). Vendler says in the course of her admiring review: ‘Far more than Eliot or Pound, Stevens wished passionately to be above all a poet of 20th-century America and its American English; and he had the luck, as they did not, to write with increasing genius to the end of his life.’ Do you think she’s right about Eliot and Pound? And Stevens, indeed? If you don’t already know his work, a good place to start is with ‘Sunday Morning’, which Brian Morton chose as one of his ‘Selected Works’; David Malouf chose ‘The Snow Man’, at the bleaker end of Stevens’s gloriously broad spectrum.

~ Robyn

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