Wallace Stevens: The Plain Sense of Things

Paperback | April 1, 1987

byJames Longenbach

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Wallace Stevens the poet and Wallace Stevens the insurance executive: for more than one critical generation it has seemed as if these two men were unacquainted--that Stevens was a poet who existed only in the rarefied world of language. However, the idea that Stevens lived a double life, theauthor maintains, is misleading. This compelling book uncovers what Stevens liked to think of as his "ordinary" life, a life in which the demands of politics, economics, poetry, and everyday distractions coexisted, sometimes peacefully and sometimes not. Examining the full scope of Stevens's career(from the student-poet of the nineteenth century to the award-winning poet of the Cold War years), Longenbach reveals that Stevens was not only aware of events taking place around him, but often inspired by those events. The major achievements of Stevens's career are shown to coalesce around themajor historical events of his lifetime (the Great Depression and two World Wars); but Longenbach also dwells on Stevens's two extended periods of poetic silence, exploring the crucial aspects of Steven's life that were not exclusively poetic. Longenbach demonstrates that through Stevens's work insurety law he was far more intimately acquainted with legal and economic concerns than most poets, and he consequently thought deeply about the strengths--and, equally important, the limitations--of poetry as a social product and force.

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From Our Editors

'This distinguished book sets forth the Stevens that we will be reading for at least the next three decades: a Stevens in close touch with political and social conditions, a Stevens whose poetry arises from the texture of his times.'-Louis Martz

From the Publisher

Wallace Stevens the poet and Wallace Stevens the insurance executive: for more than one critical generation it has seemed as if these two men were unacquainted--that Stevens was a poet who existed only in the rarefied world of language. However, the idea that Stevens lived a double life, theauthor maintains, is misleading. This compell...

From the Jacket

'This distinguished book sets forth the Stevens that we will be reading for at least the next three decades: a Stevens in close touch with political and social conditions, a Stevens whose poetry arises from the texture of his times.'-Louis Martz

James Longenbach is at University of Rochester.

other books by James Longenbach

The Virtues of Poetry
The Virtues of Poetry

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The Resistance To Poetry
The Resistance To Poetry

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see all books by James Longenbach
Format:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.27 × 5.51 × 1.02 inPublished:April 1, 1987Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195070224

ISBN - 13:9780195070224

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From Our Editors

'This distinguished book sets forth the Stevens that we will be reading for at least the next three decades: a Stevens in close touch with political and social conditions, a Stevens whose poetry arises from the texture of his times.'-Louis Martz

Editorial Reviews

"Covers the whole of Steven's career, from the time he was an aspiring fin-de-siecle student-poet at Harvard to his celebrated final years."--Harvey Teres