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Dear Raphael,
     As usual, you're quite perceptive and right on target in noting that
> French symbolism is too often used as an umbrella term in English
> criticism. Eliot and Stevens didn't quite have the same models.
As for your other questions,
> I can see some Mallarmé (who wasn't a favourite of Eliot)
> in Stevens. Is there much Baudelaire or Laforgue in Stevens's poems, though?
I would say that Stevens resembles some aspects of Baudelaire in terms of
technique--say, in juxtaposing images without explicit connectors, or
disrupting syntax to achieve a collage effect, or even elaborating an
entire poem around one central conceit--but in terms of sensibility and
interest, Stevens is far removed from Baudelaire despite their mutual
interest in dandyism.  Some traits of Laforgue seem prominent in much of
Stevens, however--his breeziness, humor, and attentiveness to sounds, for
example.  With S, though, the art always seems too divorced from life, as
if the dingy dirtiness of everyday life were too overwhelming an
encroachment on his pristine sense of aestheticism, an attitude quite
alien to B or L.  I'm sure everyone else is just as unsatisfied with Kate
Troy's claim that the last two stanzas of "The Idea of Order at Key
West" speak self-evidently--when one answers an interrogative with a
rhetorical question, isn't it an evasion?  To say nothing of the fact that
Ramon Fernandez (a made up name, as Stevens admitted) doesn't actually
_say_ anything!  I like Raphael's suggestion,
> >From W. Logan's essay on Stevens and Eliot:
> I'm not sure 'supersubtle' is a word Eliot used much. To me, it's definitely
> Jamesian,
mainly because it invokes James' fussiness and propensity for the ornate,
but isn't the term actually Elizabethan, or rather Shakespearean?  Doesn't
Iago use it as a backhanded compliment toward Desdemona in _Othello_?  I
think Logan associates it with Eliot because of the way TSE drenched
himself in the diction of all those Jacobean playwrights early in his
career--one of his early ways to reconnect with the "bones of Europe," as
it were.  I'd like to hear a bit more elaboration on this last claim,
partly to advance my own thinking:
> More generally, I think Logan is perhaps too confident when he argues that
> Eliot's poetry will inevitably wear less well than Stevens's. Of course,
> there are aspects of Eliot that look like period pieces. But who knows if,
> in a hundred years' time, people won't find it strangely old-fashioned that
> someone could write poems about ways of looking at blackbirds? Just because
> Stevens's subject matter is a-historical does not mean that it will appeal
> to all generations. History has many cunning passages.
Trying to predict changes in taste looks like a hopeless enterprise.
Yours,
Chris Tidwell