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Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens

Format: Hardback
Publisher: Cornell University Press, Ithaca, United States
Published: 30th Nov 1974
Dimensions: w 150mm h 230mm
ISBN-10: 0801408326
ISBN-13: 9780801408328
Barcode No: 9780801408328

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Kirkus US
As Middlebrook quickly acknowledges, the styles of the poets under discussion are very different. Their common ground, she proposes, is a mythology of imagination that derives ultimately, via Emerson, from Coleridge - a shared faith in the confrontation of mind and object that produces an integration of image (symbol) and idea (abstraction). Her separate detailed readings of the poets' major works ferret out the significance in each of creative consciousness, analogizing the "Real Me" and Soul of Whitman to Stevens' Muse. Very good readings they are, and yet there is that perennial temptation inherent in the academic point of view to bend the texts to fit the theory. Agreed that even Stevens, whose major influence was French Symbolism, owes a debt to Whitman - as which American poet does not? Agreed that both are in the Romantic tradition (ergo relate to Coleridge), both reject reason, both are humanists. What is lost is the sense of Whitman as an emotional, inflective, often ecstatic Transcendalist, of Stevens as a much cooler skeptic given to intellectuality and innuendo. Those, of course, are matters of style, but despite the apparent success of Middlebrook's deliberate, lucid argument, we're not sure that intention in poetry can be isolated from style. (Kirkus Reviews)