Wallace Stevens (1879-1955) has been acknowledged by writers as diverse as Harold Bloom, Adrienne Rich and R.S. Thomas as one of the central poets of the 20th century. Justin Quinn offers a fundamental reassessment of Stevens's work and the connections it makes between nature, community and art. He engages fully with the recent wave of historicist criticism, and displays the shortcomings of this approach, not only for a reading of Stevens, but also for literature in general. Quinn asks in his introduction "why shouldn't there be a criticism which attends to the societal contexts of poetry without reneging on responsibilities to poetry as a discourse distinct from politics and ideology, one with its own special rhetorical funds and resources, which can nevertheless allow it to comment on the political aspects of our lives in special ways?" His book responds to that requirement and is a valuable contribution to the critical debate on Wallace Stevens's poetry.
Stevens and nature poetry
public poetry and "The Auroras of Autumn"
the city, the landscape, the masses
family, nation, race
"the whole thesis is made exciting and suitably concise."
Books Ireland March 2002