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The First BookTwentieth-Century Poetic Careers in America$
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Jesse Zuba

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164472

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164472.001.0001

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Apprentices to Chance Event

Apprentices to Chance Event

First Books of the 1920s

(p.21) 1 Apprentices to Chance Event
The First Book

Jesse Zuba

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores representations of career in Harmonium (Wallace Stevens), Observations (Marianne Moore), and White Buildings (Hart Crane) that resist the normative course of development that underpins the professional ideal of regular production. The indeterminacy of representations of career in nineteenth-century poetry is pressed to an extreme in modernist debuts, which are burdened not only with evoking the uncertainty that confirms vocational integrity and the intermittency that signals autonomy from the market, but also with evoking those ideas in new ways. This last challenge, necessitated by the demand that every artistic generation make it new, is made still more daunting by the rise of a culture of professionalism in which writing poetry was apt to appear as childish, effeminate, escapist, elitist, and generally absurd.

Keywords:   Harmonium, Wallace Stevens, Observations, Marianne Moore, White Buildings, Hart Crane, nineteenth-century poetry, modernist debuts, professionalism

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