Understanding Aesthetic Radicalism: Alexander Blok and Wallace Stevens
- УДК / UDK: 82-1
- Author: Tatiana D. Venediktova
- About the author:
Tatiana D. Venediktova, Doctor Hab. in Philology, Professor, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Leninskie Gory 1, 119991 Moscow, Russia.
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1003-4338
Aesthetic radicalism characteristic of the modernist literary culture is explored in the work of Alexander Blok (1880 –1921) and Wallace Stevens (1879 –1955). Poetic imagination, Stevens wrote, is “always at the end of the era” — the two poets shared a sense of writing from a hiatus between no longer and not yet. Both were fascinated, however distantly, by radical ideologies of their time, particularly the power to produce and propagate heroic myth. Heroic visionaries are defined by the “warlike attitude” (R.W. Emerson), the oppositional stance that causes an enhancement and a reduction of imagination. The image of modern heroics in Blok’s and Stevens’ poetry is associated metaphorically with the energizing and deadening effect of the cold. In such poems as “The Twelve,” “The Snow man” and other the breakthrough to “absolute” reality is imagined as a result of the violent self-abstraction from all settled contexts and all subjective values. It is fraught with risk and associated, by Block, with the ability to hear the music of being through the noises of the time or, by Stevens, with the directness of seeing “things as they are.” Trust in the possibility of such a breakthrough, accompanied by the understanding of its utter impossibility is a characteristic paradox of the culture of modernism. It is most vividly observed as we compare the creative strategies of the two poets, however distant they are culturally.
- Keywords: Alexander Blok, Wallace Stevens, modernism, radicalism, metaphor, aesthetics and politics.
- For citation:
Venediktova, Tatiana. “Understanding Aesthetic Radicalism: Alexander Blok and Wallace Stevens.” Literature of the Americas, no. 12 (2022): 158–174. https://doi.org/10.22455/2541-7894-2022-12-158-174
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