Richard Wilbur: On "Recollections of Stevens by Acquaintances"

[After introducing Stevens at a 1952 reading at Harvard, my wife and I] drove him to his hotel in our ‘36 Ford, which was very uncomfortable for him. We said we hoped he would come and see us some time. "I won’t, but you’re very kind to invite me." There was no severity in that at all. He was just being honest. In the same way, during that day he spoke, not with any animus but with a certain firmness, of two classes of people: those who bother you with letters and those who do not. He didn’t like people who wrote him letters and made him either answer them or feel guilt about not answering them. I had had a very brief postcard exchange [with him] once, and I recall him saying he thought the postcard was the ideal form, something like the sonnet, in which people could send each other signals without unnecessary pain.

Then we had another little exchange by postcard. I had been reading Gaston Bachelard, the Sorbonne philosopher and aesthetician. Bachelard says somewhere that the human imagination simply cannot cope with polar conditions, and so I shot off a postcard to Stevens. He wrote back some splendid sentence about Bachelard is wrong, most art is created out of a condition of winter."

From Peter Brazeau, ed. Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered (San Francisco: North Point Press, 1985), 169-170.


Title Richard Wilbur: On "Recollections of Stevens by Acquaintances" Type of Content Biographical
Criticism Author Richard Wilbur Criticism Target Wallace Stevens
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 16 Nov 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication Parts of a World: Wallace Stevens Remembered
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