Imagination and reality: modernist fiction in the light of WallaceStevens’ poetics of abstraction

Jorgen Veisland


To Wallace Stevens the artist is determined by hisrelation to the “pressure of reality.” When the artisterases or evades the pressure reality is absorbedby the imagination so that the interdependencebetween reality and imagination is aestheticallymetamorphosed by a process of abstraction, and theartist’s power is measured by his ability to abstracthimself and to withdraw reality with him into hisabstraction. Here, Stevens has formulated nothingless than a poetics of abstraction. In this essaythe significance of his poetics will be examined byapplying it to modernist fiction, embarking froma reading by Stevens’ own poem “The Snow Man”(1921), where the aural sense, listening, preventsand excludes a fanciful attachment to the unreal andallows for the interdependence and the merging ofimagination and reality, a poetic abstraction that isembedded in nature itself. In Alain Robbe-Grillet’snovelJealousy(1957), Haruki Murakami’s short story“TV People” (1993), and Paul Auster’s novel4321(2017) we find a problematising, even a denigration ofvision as the characters are drawn to petrified imagesthat obviate perception and insight. Bruno Schulz’novella “Cinnamon Shops” (1934) forms an exceptionin that the experience of illumination and expansion,taking place in winter, is precipitated by a unifying ofthe senses, aural, visual and tactile. The first-personnarrator abstracts himself and abstracts reality byplacing it in the imagination, to use Stevens’ phrase.
Author Jorgen Veisland (FL/ISS)
Jorgen Veisland,,
- Institute of Scandinavian Studies
Journal seriesInscriptions, ISSN , e-ISSN 2535-5430, (0 pkt)
Issue year2020
Publication size in sheets0.50
Article number51
Keywords in Englishabstraction, ontological congruity, imagination and reality, possible poet
Languageen angielski
LicenseJournal (articles only); published final; Uznanie Autorstwa (CC-BY); with publication
Score (nominal)5
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 5.0, 28-01-2020, ArticleFromJournal
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