In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • “And the World Had Worlds”: Stevens’s Ways of Doing and Becoming World Literature
  • Bart Eeckhout, Lisa Goldfarb, and Gül Bilge Han

THE PEDIGREE of the double special issue we have the pleasure of introducing here stretches back over several decades. More than thirty years ago, Al Filreis initiated what would become a highly productive critical debate when he titled his first major study Wallace Stevens and the Actual World (1991). Importantly, Filreis didn’t limit the case studies gathered in that book to Stevens’s interactions with his immediate spatiotemporal environment, tempting as such an approach might have seemed for such a homebound poet who cultivated the here and now in his verse. Instead, the first half of Filreis’s groundbreaking book was devoted to the poet’s responses to the “world war” raging especially on the European front, including how this cataclysm shaped his genealogical thinking about his Dutch ancestry; and the second half included two extensive chapters that carried such iconic titles as “Cuba Should Be Full of Cuban Things” and “The Postcard Imagination.” The “actual world” to which Filreis chose to connect Stevens’s work, in other words, was decidedly global.

A decade later, The Wallace Stevens Journal celebrated its silver jubilee by presenting a hefty issue filled with international perspectives on the poet (see under Eeckhout). Case studies ranged far and wide, from the more obvious instances of England, France, Cuba, and Canada to connections with Italy, Poland, China, and the Orient—not to mention the batch of poems that was added to the issue’s smorgasbord, with translations into Romagnolo, Spanish, German, Dutch, and Japanese as well. Much of our own work in subsequent years would follow through on this critical lineage and set some of the terms of the debate, whether we were involved in editing another special issue of the Journal, this time on Stevens and British literature, and a collection of essays called Wallace Stevens across the Atlantic (see, for both, Eeckhout and Ragg); wrote two books in which the poet was intimately connected to French symbolism and especially the figure of Paul Valéry (see Goldfarb); coedited a volume coming out of a conference at the Sorbonne in Paris, Wallace Stevens, Poetry, and France (see Utard et al.); contributed the chapters “International Reputation” [End Page 1] and “Transnationalism” to Wallace Stevens in Context and The New Wallace Stevens Studies (see under Eeckhout and Han, respectively); or took a notably global view in Wallace Stevens and the Poetics of Modernist Autonomy (Han). The same years saw the production, furthermore, of a special issue of the Journal on Stevens and France, this time edited by Anne Luyat.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the two European-based scholars among us sat together in 2017 to discuss the possibility of organizing a small conference to situate Stevens finally also in relation to the idea and critical field of “world literature.” Most—but not all—of the work we’re presenting in this and the following issue of the Journal was thus tried out at a symposium entitled “Wallace Stevens as World Literature,” organized the following year, in the late spring of 2018, at Stockholm University in Sweden. We not only recollect this antediluvian (because pre-pandemic) gathering with much fondness, but are also happy to report that our modestly sized symposium left several critical traces outside the pages of the Journal as well. One of our speakers, Jahan Ramazani, seized upon the occasion to develop a chapter for a book, Poetry in a Global Age, that he was then conceptualizing, and went on to publish in 2020. The interested reader should check out that book’s seventh chapter, “Poetry, Planet, and the Ecological Thought: Wallace Stevens and Beyond,” as part of the critical conversation presented in our double special issue. Then there was Lee Jenkins, who had been planning to participate in Stockholm but had to pull out in the end. As she had already begun to research her contribution, we offered her a forum in The New Wallace Stevens Studies, for which Lee wrote a richly packed chapter to determine the relevance of the paradigm of world literature...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-0570
Print ISSN
0148-7132
Pages
pp. 1-9
Launched on MUSE
2022-03-02
Open Access
No
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