"In writing about Stevens's revolutionary poetics, Jacqueline Brogan succeeds in creating a work that is itself revolutionary. Her book challenges traditional notions about Stevens the poet and Stevens the man. This is a provocative and controversial thesis, and it is certain to generate critical debate for years to come."
—John N. Serio, editor, Wallace Stevens Journal
Brogan traces Stevens's evolving poetic practices along three major lines that often intersected. She situates the beginnings of Stevens's development within his early resistance to the pressures of "reality" on the imagination, an artistic stand that pitted him against the "objective" poetry exemplified in the work of William Carlos Williams. Then, in the midst of Stevens's career, World War II moved him forward with new poetic responsibilities both to witness the current world and to guide readers into their future. The emergence of an almost feminist vision defines Stevens's third line of development. Finally, in addition to identifying these developmental stages, Brogan addresses the undercurrent of race throughout Stevens's work.
According to Brogan, Stevens not only changed but matured over time. What began as an aesthetic "violence within," or a girding against such "violence without" as social unrest and war, rapidly evolved during Stevens's middle years into a set of perceptions and practices increasingly responsive to his times.
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