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Utopias of One$
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Joshua Kotin

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196541

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196541.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM PRINCETON SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.princeton.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Princeton University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in PRSO for personal use.date: 19 June 2021

Wallace Stevens’s Point of View

Wallace Stevens’s Point of View

Chapter:
(p.91) Chapter Five Wallace Stevens’s Point of View
Source:
Utopias of One
Author(s):

Joshua Kotin

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691196541.003.0006

This chapter describes Wallace Stevens's pursuit of value from his point of view—especially during the act of writing. It begins with an account of his attitude toward his metaphysical need and then examines how three poems fail to satisfy it: “Sunday Morning” (1915, 1923), “The Idea of Order at Key West” (1934), and “Credences of Summer” (1947). Each poem, the chapter argues, approaches the problem of value as a problem of community formation. Each poem is an experiment—an attempt to coordinate a collective solution to the fact/value dichotomy that avoids both nihilism and what Ludwig Wittgenstein calls the “supernatural.” Ultimately, the chapter details how a fourth poem, “The Auroras of Autumn” (1948), solves the problem of value (for Stevens) by abandoning the idea of community altogether. The poem's success hinges on its inaccessibility—how it prevents readers from sharing Stevens's point of view.

Keywords:   Wallace Stevens, writing, The Auroras of Autumn, value, community formation, supernatural, poetry

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