Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction by Edward RaggWallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction by Edward Ragg

Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction

byEdward Ragg

Hardcover | August 23, 2010

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Edward Ragg's study is the first to examine the role of abstraction throughout the work of Wallace Stevens. By tracing the poet's interest in abstraction from Harmonium through to his later works, Ragg argues that Stevens only fully appreciated and refined this interest within his later career. Ragg's detailed close-readings highlight the poet's absorption of late nineteenth century and early twentieth century painting, as well as the examples of philosophers and other poets' work. Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of Abstraction will appeal to those studying Stevens as well as anyone interested in the relations between poetry and painting. This valuable study embraces revealing philosophical and artistic perspectives, analyzing Stevens' place within and resistance to Modernist debates concerning literature, painting, representation and 'the imagination'.
Title:Wallace Stevens and the Aesthetics of AbstractionFormat:HardcoverDimensions:262 pages, 8.98 × 5.98 × 0.63 inPublished:August 23, 2010Publisher:Cambridge University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:052119086X

ISBN - 13:9780521190862


Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; List of abbreviations; Introduction: 'Stevensian' and the question of abstraction 1935-2009; 1. The abstract impulse: from anecdote to 'new romantic' in Harmonium (1923) and Ideas of Order (1935); 2. The turn to abstraction: Owl's Clover (1936) and the 'un-locatable' speaker in The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937); 3. The 'in-visible' abstract: Stevens' idealism from Coleridge to Merleau-Ponty; 4. Abstract figures: the curious case of the idealist 'I'; 5. Abstract appetites: food, wine and the idealist 'I'; 6. The pure good of theory: a new abstract emphasis; 7. Bourgeois abstraction: poetry, painting and the idea of mastery in late Stevens.

Editorial Reviews

"Ragg's book represents a new stage in Stevens criticism, after the aestheticism of the pre-1970 period, the philosophical emphasis of 1970-90 (Joseph Riddel, Harold Bloom, and J. Hillis Miller), and the historicism of 1990-2010 (Alan Filreis and James Longenbach). Ragg (Tsinghua Univ., Beijing) does not forswear history or philosophy. But he embeds them in a careful consideration of how Stevens actually thought: the aesthetics here are not generic but concertedly Stevens's own. The author reveals much about what Stevens read and did, but he also undertakes ambitious readings, such as a highly productive quibble on whether the "le" in "Montrachet-le-Jardin" should be capitalized and a bravura exegesis of "The Pure Good of Theory," a middle-late poem that Ragg elucidates to its full potential. He lauds Stevens's approval of the "second-rate" (p. 190), which allows for a "bourgeois abstraction" in which the ordinary and exotic are not strangers. Though, as Ragg observes, Stevens himself was not second-rate, cultivating the second-rate enabled him to achieve his "resourcefully abstract" style in a way that experiencing only the best art would not have. Only the philosopher Simon Critchley has shed as much new light on Stevens as Ragg here does. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty." -N. Birns, The New School, CHOICE