Updating Baudelaire for the Radio Age

J. Stan Barrett

in Broadcasting Modernism

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2009 | ISBN: 9780813033495
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038315 | DOI:
Updating Baudelaire for the Radio Age

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In Ideas of Order, abstraction becomes Wallace Stevens's mechanism for coping with his desire to be socially engaged while satisfying a much stronger desire to distance his own thinking from the public's thoughts, which Stevens strongly associated with radio. Deliberately emptying his language of content, Stevens arranges poems like “The Pleasure of Merely Circulating” as screens to block or diffuse the associations of his poetic language with the ideas and discourses continuously broadcast over America's airwaves. His poems take up the work of restoring the intersubjective distance between writer and reader that he believed radio had helped to collapse. “The Pleasures of Merely Circulating” allegorizes Stevens's response to radio. It articulates his complaint against the circulation of discourse that Stevens could not tune out in the 1930s.

Keywords: Ideas of Order; Wallace Stevens; poetic language; discourse

Chapter.  7053 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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