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The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination Paperback


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The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination + The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens + Selected Poems (William Carlos Williams)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (February 12, 1965)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0394702786
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394702780
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 4.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,144 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this book, the first collection of his prose works, he accounts in scintillating language for the peculiarly modern and sometimes deliquescent fervor that has prompted his poems. Few poets have written so characteristically about their own craft." --Perspective --U.S.A.

"These are rich essays, simply constructed yet richly and elegantly written." -- Hayden Carruth, The Nation

"The most welcome attribute of the book is its humane good sense, equally manifest whether Stevens is discussing a desolate Pennsylvania churchyard. Plato's images or the personalities of those who prefer a drizzle in Venice to a hard rain in Hartford.''' --New Republic

"It is a rare pleasure to breathe the atmosphere of confidence and wholeness which distinguishes the world of Wallace Stevens. Here we are refreshed by certainty without fragmentariness, by joyous possibilities without dishonesty. Here we find a moral and philosophical center through which reality may be repossessed and re-created with each new poetic act." -- C. Roland Wagner, The Hudson Review

From the Back Cover

"In this book, the first collection of his prose works, he accounts in scintillating language for the peculiarly modern and sometimes deliquescent fervor that has prompted his poems. Few poets have written so characteristically about their own craft." --Perspective --U.S.A.

"These are rich essays, simply constructed yet richly and elegantly written." -- Hayden Carruth, The Nation

"The most welcome attribute of the book is its humane good sense, equally manifest whether Stevens is discussing a desolate Pennsylvania churchyard. Plato's images or the personalities of those who prefer a drizzle in Venice to a hard rain in Hartford.''' --New Republic

"It is a rare pleasure to breathe the atmosphere of confidence and wholeness which distinguishes the world of Wallace Stevens. Here we are refreshed by certainty without fragmentariness, by joyous possibilities without dishonesty. Here we find a moral and philosophical center through which reality may be repossessed and re-created with each new poetic act." -- C. Roland Wagner, The Hudson Review

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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 28, 2005
Format: Paperback
Few are the great poets who construct a critical edifice worthy of bearing attention similar to that of their poetry. Wordsworth and Coleridge do this in 'The Lyrical Ballads' and Keats does it in his Letters. Stevens a poet of extraordinary exuberance and richness constructs in these essays a kind of master -guide to own aesthetic and fundamental principles. His conception of a Reality- forming Imagination capable of transforming what it senses into supreme fictions, hints at what his own Art is all about.

But the line - by- line beauty of his poetry and its deep transforming often hypnotic music have no real parallel in his prose. Prose explains and poetry reveals more than any explanation can give.

The Essays can be a help to the reader of the Poetry, but it is the Poetry that it is the Essential Art.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By jimjoyce25 on August 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Perhaps the most significant work of philosophy in English in the 20th century.

Stevens works in the same field as Maurice Blanchot and the later Heidegger, with two caveats:

1. He writes exceptionally clear and elegant English, and

2. He is a real poet.

What he has to say about the relation of reality and the imagination provides the clearest sense of what Heidegger is getting at in speaking of absence and presence, and what Blanchot means by l'espace litteraire.

These essays also provide a way into some of Stevens' own crucial poems, like The Man with the Blue Guitar, and Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.

Any critic who ignores this work (talking about you, Harold Bloom), or mangles it (Helen Vendler) cannot possibly understand what Stevens' poetry is about.

Postscript: After writing this review, I subsequently read through the unabridged version of Wallace Stevens' letters. I was quite pleased to note that in several letters written in the 1950s, he inquires of Peter Lee, a young poet and friend of his who lived for some time in Fribourg, whether he has encountered Heidegger there. In another letter, he asks his Parisian bookseller, Paule Vidal, to send him a copy of a recent book of Heidegger's on the German poet Holderlin. And in another letter, he states simply that he "loves" Maurice Blanchot.

For one thing, this shows that he was one of the first Americans to have read the work of Blanchot and the later Heidegger, possibly as early as the 1930s but certainly by the 1940s. Consider that even the most avant garde university intellectuals did not begin reading them in this country until the 1970s. But even more, this shows that Stevens felt a very strong affinity with Blanchot's writing on literature, and I believe he felt Blanchot's work expressing ideas similar to his own. And he may well have felt the same about Heidegger.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hillman on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent! Clear, intellegent and original for its time. Philosophy for the artistic, well educated set. An essential for any spiritual or philosophic library.
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