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Cultural immaterialism: Wallace Stevens in virtual Paris

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Key Words : A Journal of Cultural Materialism
Number of pages17
Pages (from-to)108-124
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


This essay explores the paradox in Stevens’s life and career that, notwithstanding his interest in France and especially Paris, he stood out from nearly all other American Modernist writers by the fact that he never visited Europe, even though more than some who did he endorsed the significance of what the French capital could offer. I shall suggest that the Paris Stevens denied himself strangely became the ‘Paris’ he achieved, and that his identification with the city was one that by its own logic not only did not require him to pay a visit, but in time rendered it essential that he should not do so; this uncovers something central to Stevens’s poetry, and also to his Americanness. The quotation above offers terms helpful in discussing his attachment to ‘virtual Paris’: where and what ‘there’ is, and how the strangeness of being ‘there’ is connected with its truthfulness, for the ‘I’ engaged in finding itself.