When Opus Posthumous first appeared in 1957, it was an appropriate capstone to the career of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. It included many poems missing from Stevens's Collected Poems, along with Stevens's characteristically inventive prose and pieces for the theater. Now Milton J. Bates, the author of the acclaimed Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self, has edited and revised Opus Posthumous to correct the previous edition's errors and to incorporate material that has come to light ...
When Opus Posthumous first appeared in 1957, it was an appropriate capstone to the career of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. It included many poems missing from Stevens's Collected Poems, along with Stevens's characteristically inventive prose and pieces for the theater. Now Milton J. Bates, the author of the acclaimed Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self, has edited and revised Opus Posthumous to correct the previous edition's errors and to incorporate material that has come to light since original publication. A third of the poems and essays in this edition are new to the volume. The resulting book is an invaluable literary document whose language and insights are fresh, startling, and eloquent.
Intended as a companion volume to Stevens's Collected Poems , the Opus Posthumous miscellany (first issued in 1957) contains some of his deepest poetic ruminations on the imagination and the limits of knowledge, along with many verses that seem like metaphysical doodles, mere dress rehearsals for larger poems. The book also includes three philosophical playlets, notes on Stevens's poetry, plus essays on diverse themes: living in Connecticut, the irrational in poetry, Raoul Dufy's lithographs, reading T. S. Eliot to stay young, etc. Original to this revised edition is a wonderful batch of first-rate aphorisms (e.g., ``All poetry is experimental poetry''). Among the newly added poems, the standout is ``Carnet de Voyage'' (1914), an early sequence in which Stevens tentatively sounded his mature themes. Previously uncollected essays and jottings include jejune scribbling on the insurance industry and oracular pronouncements in the form of Stevens's replies to questionnaires sent by Partisan Review and other magazines. Bates is the author of Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self. (Aug.)
Originally published in 1957, under the editorship of Samuel French Morse, Opus Posthumous was designed as a companion to Stevens's Collected Poems (1954), offering the reader various fugitive pieces not appearing in book form. This new edition by Stevens scholar Bates contains 48 items that have never been previously published--or that appear here in a radically new form. These new items include poetry, drama, aphorisms, essays, and even responses to questionnaires. Thus, Bates's edition of Opus Posthumous represents a significant addition to the Stevens canon, one that restores the unofficial poet ``who engages today's biographers and historians.'' To read the beautiful pages of this book is to understand why ``poetry is a means of redemption.'' Required of all larger poetry collections.-- Daniel L. Guillory, Millikin Univ., Decatur, Ill.
Wallace Stevens was born in Reading, Pennsylvania, on October 2, 1879, and died in Hartford, Connecticut, on August 2, 1955. Although he had contributed to the Harvard Advocate while in college, he began to gain general recognition only when Harriet Monroe included four of his poems in a sepcial 1914 wartime issue of Poetry. Harmonium, his first volume of poems, was published in 1923, and was followed by Ideas of Order (1936), The Man with the Blue Guitar (1937), Parts of a World (1942), Transport to Summer (1947), The Auroras of Autumn (1950), The Necessary Angel (a volume of essays, 1951), The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens (1954), and Opus Posthumous (first published in 1957, edited by Samuel Frued Morse; a new, revised, and corrected edition by Milton J. Bates, 1989). Mr. Stevens was awarded the Bollingen Prize in Poetry of the Yale University Library for 1949. In 1951 he won the National Book Award in Poetry for The Auroras of Autumn, in 1955 he won it a second time for The Collected Poems of Wallace Stevens, which was also awarded the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry in 1955. From 1916 on, he was associated with the Hartford Accident and Indemnity Company, of which he became vice president in 1934.