Wallace Stevens's "An Ordinary Evening in New Haven": A Form of Farewell

by Lamb, Brenda Y

Abstract (Summary)
My thesis paper explores Wallace Stevenss poem An Ordinary Evening in New Haven contextually. Stevens has long been regarded as monotonous in his themes. Critics, including Bloom, have studied An Ordinary Evening as a poem that struggles to unite the real with the imagination. They trace his ideas of reality to Emerson, Coleridge, and Whitman, among others, through the use of intertextual analysis based on structure and allusions. Others, such as Vendler, focus on his use of minimalism to study the psychology of the author. A contextual study of An Ordinary Evening reveals that the poem is about how to cope with the emotions caused by loss, monotony of life, and disillusionment, a previously unexplored subject in Stevens. I look at the meaning of the motifs from the pressure of the poem and show how the motifs connect to Wordsworths, Baudelaires, and Whitmans grief poems. I, then, explore how Stevens recommends coping with anguish by allowing the object to lose meaning and then engaging the imagination to create a new way of seeing the object. I show how Stevens advocates finding comfort in a state of anguish by using the flux of reality to momentarily allow the real and unreal to become one.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Robert Baker; John Hunt; Robert Pack; Fred McGlynn

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:08/07/2008

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