In a letter of January 1955, Wallace Stevens referred to Paul Valery as a "prodigy of poetry".
Although his correspondence reveals that he was long familiar with both Valery's poetry and prose, and scholars from the early days of Stevens criticism to the present -- from Frank Kermode to Harold Bloom and Eleanor Cook -- have acknowledged Valery's importance for Stevens and noted the mark of Valery's poetics on Stevens' prose and poetry, until now there has been no comprehensive analysis of the affinities between them.
The first full-length study of its kind, "The Figure Concealed" explores the multiple parallels between these two great 20th century poets. Lisa Goldfarb brings Valery's and Stevens' poetics and poetry into conversation, and focuses on the resonance of Valery's musical ideas in Stevens' poetic theory and practice.
Early chapters focus on the interlacing of their work poetically and philosophically, while the later ones increasingly focus on readings of Stevens through the lens of Valeryan musical-poetic theory. Stevens' letters, essays and poems are examined alongside Valery's Cahiers [Notebooks], essays, and poems to amplify the Valeryan echo throughout Stevens' work.
The Figure Concealed makes an important contribution to studies of modern poetry and to Stevens scholarship in particular.
It offers a new and transformative comparative study and proposes a musical poetics which will be important for scholars of modern poetry, of Stevens and Valery, and will appeal to all those interested in the relationship between music and poetry, the arts more broadly, as well as aesthetics and philosophy.
- Format: Hardback
- Pages: 228 pages
- Publisher: Sussex Academic Press
- Publication Date: 29/11/2010
- Category: Literary studies: from c 1900 -
- ISBN: 9781845194376
- Paperback from £23.95