How to Live, What to Do: Thirteen Ways of Looking at Wallace Stevens


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$19.95  $18.35
University of Iowa Press
Publish Date
4.9 X 0.4 X 8.4 inches | 0.4 pounds
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About the Author

Joan Richardson is distinguished professor of English, comparative literature, and American studies at the graduate center at the City University of New York. In addition to her earlier volumes on Stevens, she is the author of A Natural History of Pragmatism: The Fact of Feeling from Jonathan Edwards to Gertrude Stein and Pragmatism and American Experience.


"In this concise primer on Wallace Stevens, Joan Richardson offers an elegantly organized constellation of important sources and angles that bring us inside the world of Stevens's remarkable poetry. Most impressive and moving to me, however, is Richardson's attention to the 'difficult wonder' of thinking, which she deems Stevens's final subject. 'In our accelerated climate we do gradually but actually lose the sense of thinking, how thinking feels, ' Richardson writes; it is her great gift to us--one she shares with her subject--to have the capacity to call the reader back to this voluptuous thinking, without which we are impoverished beyond measure."--Maggie Nelson, author, The Argonauts

"Joan Richardson, in her virtuoso distillation of Wallace Stevens, performs a resonant, moving act of homage. With inspired leaps, aural sensitivity, philosophical depth, and science-blessed visionary capacities, she enlarges our sense of how a poem can behave, and of how we can use poetry to live more passionately."--Wayne Koestenbaum, author, My 1980s & Other Essays

"'Exercises in meditation, ' Joan Richardson calls Stevens's poetry, 'designed to loosen inherited, outworn habits of thought.' This compelling book--her own set of adventurous meditations at once inward and capacious--is a wonderful gift to specialists and the general reader alike from one of the poet's indispensable readers." --Ross Posnock, Columbia University