This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Words at Play: Different interpretations of Wallace Stevens’ “A Dish of Peaches in Russia” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”.
I-Introduction This paper attempts to investigate different deconstructionist interpretations of the above mentioned poems by Stevens. “A Dish of Peaches in Russia” suggests three distinctly different interpretations. The first one is seen at the surface structure; it is simply “a dish of peaches”. The second one is based on an image of a sexually attractive woman, “a dish”. The third is seen through an image of a group of intellectuals, “peaches”. The title “Thirteen ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is suggestive. The poem creates a new linguistic field of speculative exploration. Though the blackbird receives different interpretations each section, it is perhaps the only unifying symbol which relates the thirteen sections, regardless the fact that they are characterized by diversity and dispersal. The blackbird represents man’s line of vision and thought, changeable all the time. II-Deconstruction i-Deconstruction, Structuralism, and Interpretation In page 19 of his book Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust, published in New Haven by Yale University Press in 1979, Paul de Man sees that the rigorous unreliability of the language of criticism and literature can fairly describe the term deconstruction. The paradoxical phrase "rigorous unreliability" questions all conventional rules taken for granted by critics and readers. Therefore, de Man maintains that: "Deconstruction is the active antithesis of everything that criticism ought to be if one accepts its traditional values and concepts." (qtd in Norris xi). In fact, deconstruction rejects readymade concepts used in the assessment of any piece of writing. Moreover, it stresses the point that any reading of a text is a preface to the next one. Moreover, a deconstructive reading not only questions the old commentary's refined repetition or doubling of the work, but also refuses the traditional violation of the text that links it to an outside. No connection exists between "real" biographical events, "authentic" history and phenomena, "actual" metaphysical entities, and the text at hand. Deconstruction stays within the text because there is nothing else: biography, history, and metaphysics are always already written. Written into the (inter)text.
Broadly speaking, a writer works in a linguistic and cultural system which his own discourse cannot completely dominate. Up to a point he goes along with the constituted codes. Deconstructive reading, therefore, "must always aim at a certain relationship, unperceived by the writer, between what he commands and what he does not command of the patterns of the language that he uses".... The intention of the author, conscious or unconscious, does not guide Derridean deconstruction. Often enough, a strand of thought, left undeveloped in an author's text, provides Derrida with material to deconstruct a pattern of concepts or a textual system. The author is a name. The formula for deconstructive reading is: repeat and undermine. The conventional repetition of the text, minutely and laboriously accomplished, establishes the foothold of deconstruction within the resources of the text and the tradition. (Leitch 177)1 Deconstruction comes as a revolution against structuralist beliefs that the concept of structure governs the meaning of the text. Deconstructionists, such as Jacque Derrida, oppose structuralist thoughts as those presented in Jonathan Culler's Structuralist Politics (1975) whose argument is somewhere based on Naom Chomsky's argument that "linguistic structures are innately programmed in the human mind and operate both as a constraint upon language and as a means of shared understanding." (Norris 2). The concept of preset programmes of linguistic human communications is rejected by deconstructionists since it immobilizes "the play of meaning in a text and reduces it to a manageable compass." (Norris 2). Deconstruction assumes the absence of any correspondence between a structure of meaning and any preset pattern in the mind. Interpretations are multiple and meaning is infinitely differed. Relative to interpretation and free play of words is catholic marriage between thought and sound. The thought and the sound which form the word cannot be separated like the two sides of a sheet of paper: Words for Saussure are not, of course, labels which have come to be attached to things already comprehended independently; they supply the conceptual frameworks for man's analysis of reality and also the linguistic framework for his description of it. Saussure's model of a linguistic sign is of a "two sided psychological entity" (Saussure 1983 p. 99), comprising the meaning of the word, or associated concept, together with (and inseparable from) its sound image. He uses
Whenever there is no pagination, this means it is a website.
the analogy of two sides of a piece of paper to illustrate the bond. A language might also be compared to a sheet of paper. Thought is one side of the sheet and sound the reverse side. Just as it is impossible to take a pair of scissors and cut one side of the paper without at the same time cutting the other, so it is impossible in a language to isolate sound from thought, or thought from sound.... Linguistics, then operates along this margin, where sound and thought meet. The contact between them gives rise to a form, not a substance. (Saussure 1983 p. 157, italics in original) (McNamara) The Kantian theory of a knowledge-interpreted world, which shows concern not in "the real" but in the regulating patterns which form human understanding, is similar to the structuralist concept of a language-shaped world. Structuralism depends on ideas such as relativity of thought and meaning and readerly competence based on governing presuppositions of the reading strategy. Therefore, structuralists like Culler, show double claim concerning literary competence: On the one hand it presupposes an activity of reading grounded on certain deeply naturalized codes of understanding. On the other, it assumes that texts must offer at least sufficient hold- in the way of contrastive or structural features- for such an activity to take its own intuitive bearings. (Norris 7) However, new criticism, despite having a rational methodology, respects the autonomy of the poetic language of whose permanent features is the free play of meaning. Therefore, the new critical thinking keeps a distance between its methodology and the workings of the poetic language: The distance was emphatically preserved by the rules of interpretive conduct which Wimsatt, philosopher-elect of the movement, raised to a high point of principle (see Wimsatt 1954). Chief among these was their attack on the 'heresy of paraphrase', the idea that poetic meaning could be translated into any kind of rational prose equivalent. The poem, in short, was a sacrosanct object whose autonomy demanded a proper respect for the difference between it and the language that critics used to describe it. (Norris 8) The deconstructive nature of the poetic language cannot be subject to the inherent discipline of philosophy. Norris quotes I. A. Richards supporting the same idea: In his early writings Richards put forward an ‘emotive’ theory of poetic language, according to which poetry could be valued for its powers of evocative and life-enhancing metaphor, while escaping the rigid truth-conditions of logical-positivist philosophy.
(Norris 58) Though professionally trained as a student of philosophy, Derrida's theory of deconstruction challenges the philosophers' attempts at belittling the effects of language on their theory of knowledge: He argues that philosophers have been able to impose their various systems of thought only by ignoring, or suppressing, the disruptive effects of language. His aim is always to draw out these effects by a critical reading which fastens on, and skillfully unpicks, the elements of metaphor and other figural devices at work in the texts of philosophy. Deconstruction in this, its most rigorous form acts as a constant reminder of the ways in which language deflects or complicates the philosopher's project. Above all, deconstruction works to undo the ideaaccording to Derrida, the ruling illusion of Western metaphysics– that reason can somehow dispense with language and achieve a knowledge ideally unaffected by such mere linguistic foibles. (Norris 18-19) Derrida sees that the written word comes before speech. His way of deconstructing texts is to read and reread them in a certain way. He defied the idea that meaning is grounded on metaphysical presence. (See: Carrigan). Derrida maintains that any given text does not have a fixed, invariable meaning. Rather, it is always open to interpretation. Derrida differs from Saussure in that he sees that writing is prior to speech as it is the precondition of language: …Derrida argues what at first must seem an extraordinary case: that writing is in fact the precondition of language and must be conceived as prior to speech. This involves showing, to begin with, that the concept of writing cannot be reduced to its normal (i.e. graphic or inscriptional) sense. As Derrida deploys it, the term is closely related to that element of signifying difference which Saussure thought essential to the workings of language. Writing, for Derrida, is the 'free play' or element of undecidability within every system of communication. Its operations are precisely those which escape the self-consciousness of speech and its deluded sense of the mastery of concept over language. Writing is the endless displacement of meaning which both governs language and places it forever beyond the reach of a stable, self-authenticating knowledge. (Norris 28) The plurality of interpretation resulted from Derrida's viewpoint that on interpreting the text, it should be totally detached from its author. The fact that a text may be read by innumerable readers endorses ongoing
process of different interpretations. Moreover, a given text may be read and reread by the same reader; thus resulting in different interpretations: In his structural analysis Derrida attempts to achieve a penetrating interpretation of the text as a totally independent entity. Introducing the term textuality, he challenges the opposition text/author by asserting the independence of the text. Such a reading, in effect, bestows on the reader the role of 'creator of meaning' which might formally have been thought of as the function of the author. Meaning is considered to be detached from the author and his intentions and instead dependent entirely upon the reader; it is thus no longer unique but multiple or even infinite. (McNamara) The fundamental difference between Derrida and Hirsch lies on their concept of the function of language. Whereas Derrida sees that the author has no authority over the text and the language itself within the text refers to nothing outside, E. D. Hirsch sees that any text is author/interpreter-tied: For Hirsch language is able to express the intentions of the author: it is intentional. For Derrida, however, language’s defining characteristic is that it is “iterable.” Iterability refers to the fact that language (especially that of a text) can be repeated (apart from the author’s original intention) with difference. Practically this means that, because language both “precedes and exceeds the author’s intention” (or that of the reader), there is no one context or intention that a text can be anchored to. Iterability means, above all things, that a text will be repeated (and nearly every time) in a way different from the author or other readers. This “essential drift” of a text’s meaning resulting from the infinite number of perspectives brought to the text by different interpreters and supported by the continual deferral of sign and signifier makes it impossible to locate meaning in any one place.(Appel) According to de Man, interpretation of any text falls between truth and the death of truth since the written text is nothing but a figure of an oral one, of a reading experience. Therefore, the interpretation is a figure of a figure. The eternal interpretation of the written text is eternally suspended while its rhetoric is continually repeated: The dramatic states of "suspension" and "repetition" announce the impossibility of reading the necessary unreadability of the text. Reading uncovers and confronts a language that vacillates
uncontrollably between the presentism of deferential meaning and the rhetorical subversion of that promise. (Leitch 184) De Man goes on equating the literariness of a text with its ability of being continually misread: if it ruled out or refused all misreading whatsoever, a text would not be literary. A text is literary to the degree that it permits and encourages misreading. Consequently, any criticism or interpretation that aims to achieve "controlled" or "correct" readings is seriously deluded. (Leitch 185) Therefore, one finds that the nature of the history of criticism is as "a systematic narrative of error". (Leitch 185) Literary texts are self-deconstructive and critics and even authors themselves help develop this characteristic willy-nilly: In essence, literary texts deconstruct themselves; they are always already deconstructed whether the author (or critic) realizes it or not. Each author, to be sure, exhibits individual degrees of understanding and awareness about the unsettling rhetoricity of language. Nevertheless, an author is finally never free to hem in the randomness of grammar, the play of figures, and the aberrations of semantic references. (Leitch 187) De Man's concept of language superiority over the author asserts texts being selfdeconstructed. (See: 187) Texts are unreadable in as much as they provide different misreadings. The unreadibility of the text is further asserted by J. Hillis Miller: For Miller all interpretation is misinterpretation. To read is to connect elements and construct patterns out of the diffuse materials in a writing. As a reader works through the chain of words in a text, he or she imposes meaning in an act of willed mastery. Texts ( are unreadable-or undecidable-in that they allow a host of potential misreadings. To reduce a text to a correct or single homogeneous reading is to restrain the free play of its elements. (Leitch 190) An interpreter and a text interact together to produce an interpretation which may be strong or the otherwise. A critic is in an ongoing search of an unattainable solid ground on which he can start his critical reading, a perpetual retrieval.
Deconstruction has something in common with the act of dancing: both depend on difference-based repetition: There can be no "true" explanation or meaning of the text-only more or less vital patterns of textual connections. Thus, the dance of deconstruction is structured, like all dance, as repetition, yet such repetition is ultimately liberated and hollowed out by difference. The parallel here with contemporary dancing is remarkably strong: after the waltz we have the swinger's solo; and at the disco the music never stops, the dancers merely walk off when they've had enough. (Leitch 194) Barthes draws up a strategy of deconstruction where he starts from the general meaning till he reaches the limited meaning in the dictionary: For him denotation is the last connotation. When the play of meanings closes, when connotation is regulated, denotation emerges. Most reading, in Barthes' view, works through connotation toward denotation. That is to say, reading seeks truth, objectivity, law. Whether in the name of denotation or connotetion, this quest for the stable center provokes Barthes' derision. Yet, strategically speaking, the old concept of connotation allows for some plurality of meaning and, therefore, it promises some tactical returns for contemporary critical reading. Among other things, connotation possesses the power to relate meaning to other anterior and exterior sites of meaning; it refuses to fix itself anywhere (recourse to the dictionary is not sufficient); it disrupts univocal communication; and it permits restricted dissemination. As a tool, then, connotation opens access to the limited "plural texts" (the classics) of our tradition. Admittedly, it is inadequate to the modern limit-text—say Finnegan's Wake—where licentious dissemination creates a different order of reading. Using connotation, the plural of the classic text can be produced in reading. (Leitch 202) When all is said and done, deconstructionists are not infallibly right all the time. At one point deconstructors have been criticized of self-contradiction. While they urge their readers to read their works with due attention, they deny the power of the language to impart any message: The deconstructors clearly expect that their texts will be read with care and attention, their arguments weighed and their conclusions discussed in a decently responsible manner. Yet how can this be squared with their own professed skepticism towards meaning, logic, truth and the very possibility of communication?
Their case might seem open to what the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, in a slightly different context, has called the ‘transcendental tu quoque’. That is, they demand that their texts be properly underStood—or at least intelligently read—while ostensibly denying the power of language to encompass any such end. (Norris 124-5) ii-The concept of the signifier/signified According to the deconstructionists’ belief, there is a constant play of meaning within the sign and between signs: The deconstructionist model, it seems to me, posits at least two axes of slippage: one within the sign and one between signs. For Saussure the two sided entity appears firmly bonded; although he does speak of the arbitrariness of the sign making it both more variable and more invariable over time (diachronically). Indeed because the sign is arbitrary there is both no reason to change it and no reason not to change it. Hence for Saussure the sign is synchronically invariable, whereas for Derrida, owing tothe "indefinite referral of signifier to signified" (Derrida 1978 p. 25), the sign is in a constant state of flux. Derrida then, with a magic pair of scissors, cuts along the margin of thought and sound in a way which Saussure thought impossible. Meaning is asserted to be no longer possible in the moment, which Derrida regards to be as a result of the absence of the "transcendental signified": since this original signified or 'true' meaning is not present the chain of signification continues endlessly. (McNamara) There is a never ending cyclical movement of the signified and signifier process: On the contrary, though, from the moment that one questions the possibility of such a transcendental signified, and that one recognises that every signified is also in the position of a signifier, the distinction between signified and signifier becomes problematical at its root. (Derrida 1981 p. 43) Derrida appropriates Saussure's terms signifier and signified but extends the function of the signified to embrace the role of signifier in another act of signification. Thus the signification process, if extended outward in this manner, would presumably eventually encompass "the world itself [as] discourse" (Tompkins 1988). Clearly the "distinc-
tion between signified and signifier" will, as Derrida foresees, become "problematical". (McNamara) Between the same and the other, or the said and saying, lies the elusive nature of the concept of the signified/signifier which results in a constant play of the meaning: According to Critchley, the metaphysical (Lévinas says ‘ontological’) Said would have to be reduced to what Lévinas calls the ethical Saying. What has to be emphasised, accordingly, is the performative act of uttering, which, however, can always only be momentary, because whenever I am saying something it will be a Said in the next instant. It is only when the Other is saying something without the Same having as yet located a definite meaning (the Said in the Saying) that the Other is fully perceived as such. And vice versa, of course: it is only in that moment when I am saying something to the other, when I direct my words and my attention towards the Other’s face that the other is left in her’s/his’s/its’s state of wholeness:
The Saying is my exposure – corporeal, sensible – to the Other, my inability to refuse the Other’s approach. It is the performative stating, proposing, or expressive position of myself facing the Other. […] The Saying is the sheer radicality of human speaking, of the event of being in relation with an Other; it is the non-thematizable ethical residue of language that escapes comprehension, interrupts philosophy, and is the very enactment of the ethical movement from the Same to the Other.
(Gerold Sedlmayr, Passau) Derrida sees that the concept of the signifier/signified is based on the necessary difference between the signifier and the signified: Derrida maintains that language only points horizontally to other signs. Building on the work of Saussure, Derrida completely accepts the idea that a sign (signifier) is arbitrarily connected with what it signifies (importantly the signified is a concept of some sort, not some external thing). Moreover, because signs only point to other signs, a signifier obtains its identity only by differing with other signs. So the word “dog” means what it does because it is not a cat, car, box or wagon, not because it stands for anything in the external world. Linguistic systems are systems of signs and signifieds, arbitrarily constructed on the principle of difference. (Appel) iii-The concept of différance
The concept of difference, whose core is renaming things or providing alternatives to them all the time, makes the attainment of real meaning a perpetual retrieval: If the significance of time is to be taken seriously, the meaning of a sign is reshaped towards an unidentifiable and flexible pseudo-object, that is constantly differing and changing from one interpretation to another. This process of differing or 'the flow of reshaping meaning' has been described by the term "différance". Because of différance, we can no longer properly speak about meanings: every time when somebody thinks or says that something means this or that, this same act of giving meaning changes this meaning. As a result, there are no identifiable objects to which the concept of meaning could refer. Its extension is empty, and not just actually empty but empty in principle. In a sense, meaning as a concept refuses to exist 'really' — all its possible extensions have to be (in a strong sense) idealised. This is the core of the conception of meaning in the metaphysics of différance. [Italics in original] (Vehkavaara) The idea of difference lies at the heart of the very nature of the interpretation. A given interpretation of a text overshadows the possibility of another per se. In his essay "Martini or Bikini? The Question of Differance Between Philosophy and Literature", Olson points out the possibility/impossibility of interpretation and provides a martini/bikini figure to bring his idea home:
Let us begin with an unconventional text. Let us say for the sake of argument it is Jacques Derrida's text. After all his writing is not unlike the text we have before us. In looking at his text what sense do we make of it? Doubtless some of you will see something like a martini glass, though to do so means disregarding what seems to be a misplaced olive. Others of you surprised at that suggestion will chuckle, lean over to the person next to you and whisper, "I saw a person in a bikini." And still others will offer interpretations at odds
with those which are most common. To see one figure, either as a martini or a bikini, is at the same time not to see the other. Like Wittgenstein's duck-rabbit, we cannot hold in mind both figures at the same time, because their configurations depend on the “same” textual ground. Our experience of text will always be one moment a martini, a bikini the next, and Derrida wants to show us that every interpretation, every insight into a text is at once its exact blindness, to the other in itself, and to the very conditions of its possibility. So if text for Derrida is the condition of possibility for every interpretation, whether martini, bikini, or otherwise, then it must also be the condition of its impossibility. That is, his text must be neither a martini nor a bikini precisely to the extent that it signifies beyond the limits of a meaningful interpretation as such. (Olson) iv-Stevens’ Poetry: Reality, Imagination, and Deconstruction Talking about poetry and Stevens, Critchley presses home a point typical to deconstructionist thought: Poetry enables us to feel differently, to see differently. It leavens a leaden time. This is poetry's nobility, which is also a violence, an imaginative violence from within that protects us from the violence from without–violence against violence, then. (Critchley 10) "Seeing differently" calls to mind the deconstructionist idea of misreadings. Stevens's idea of a political reality enhances the claim that poetry has an innate deconstructive quality: Simply stated, his conviction is that a poeticized, imaginatively transformed reality is both preferable to an inhuman, contracted and oppressive sense of reality and gives a truer picture of the relations humans entertain with the world. (Critchley 28) Since such reality is seen and construed through imagination, it follows that it is a figure of the real and any interpretation is a figure of a figure. Stevens's poem "The Man with the Blue Guitar" stresses the idea of language displacement of the author, and of an interpretation's difference from a previous one per se: They said, 'You have a blue guitar, You do not play things as they are.'
The man replied, 'Things as they are Are changed upon the blue guitar.' And they said then, 'But play, you must, A tune beyond us, yet ourselves, A tune upon the blue guitar Of things exactly as they are.' (qtd in Crichley 38) The constituent elements of deconstruction govern the above mentioned poem. Interpretation, misreading, signifier/signified, difference and differance show themselves in the aural/visual image of playing a piece of music on the blue guitar. Basically, the composer who writes the musical note provides the player with a figure of the reality. The played piece is now a figure of a figure. The misinterpretation of the reality is followed by a different one by the player. The ongoing movement of signification, seen in the composer’s idea of reality construed into a musical note which culminates into an aural piece played in the blue guitar, stresses the Derridan concept of differance. Stevens’ poetry validates the deconstructionist idea that nothing is outside the text. Stevens's philosophy behind his poetry is stressing the touch imagination exercises over reality: Stevens is attempting to write poetry of reality, where imagination touches reality, transfiguring the reality that it touches…Philosophically expressed, Stevens allows us to recast the basic problem of epistemology in a way that lets that problem be cast away. (Critchley 61) Stevens's poetry fluctuates between reality and imagination: As J. Hillis Miller wisely points out, 'At times (Stevens) is unequivocally committed to bare reality. At other times he repudiates reality and sings the praises of imagination. Indeed, it is plausible to read Stevens's entire poetic production in terms of an oscillation between two poles and two aesthetic temptations: on the other hand, the imagination seizing hold of reality, and on the other, reality resisting the imagination. (Critchley 63) Stevens’ modernist theory of imagination is explored in his first book Harmonium: He seems to have been intent first on exploring the styles and claims of his modernist theory of imagination…He
always had, however, a sense of humor and whimsy that prompted him to back off from theoretical claims, and he was always drawn to the simplicity and clarity he found in impressionist still life, and oriental art and poetry. In “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”…he imitated imagist and Chinese forms. From the beginning Stevens also espoused absolute categories…that might seem to have been on a collision course with a theory of the endless proliferation of relative knowledge. (Bevis 63) One prominent characteristic of Stevens’ poetry is its elusiveness since it is hard to give just one definite interpretation to any of his poems. His work is constantly read differently, even if by the same reader. Each time the meaning is obscured, displaced, or a different signifier/signified relation takes place. Therefore, his work receives different interpretations: Some critics consider Stevens a philosopher and attempt to position his ideas into a coherent philosophical framework: others consider such an approach inappropriate because of his incoherent logic, inconsistent theoretical positions and generally incomprehensible ideas…Suzanne Juhasz observes that many critics (Frank Dogget, Ronald Sukenick, James Baird, etc.) attempt to shape Stevens’ ideas into coherent philosophical systems by offering symbolic, rather than metaphorical, readings of his poetry. Dogget, for example, equates blue with imagination, green with reality; Sukenick explains Nanzio Nunzio as representative of reality, Ozymandias as a fiction; Baird reads a captain and his mate as symbolizing imaginings and artifice. Juhasz, who argues for a metaphorical reading, consider such symbolic interpretations as “particularly inappropriate” and Stevens’ metaphorical language as producing inconsistent theoretical positions. (Jennings 3) Stevens’ poetry can be read through a deconstruction viewpoint that focuses in liminialty: Stevens’ criticism, as we might expect, has often followed up this interest in liminality. Critics with a penchant for poststructuralist theories have been eager to analyze Stevens's poetry for its ability to elucidate or enact the difficult and shifting (so-called “undecidable” and “aporetic”) relationships between inside and outside, center and margin, world and self, signifier and signified, content and form. Deconstructionist critics in particular— who will often, characteristically, start by denouncing the delimiting quality of the very label—have been nothing if not concerned with questions of limits and the instabilities of binary systems of opposition. In the words of Rodolphe Gasché, one of
the principal spokesmen for the movement, Derridean deconstructtion has shown a marked interest in how “[t]he outside of the text is precisely that which in the text makes self-reflection possible and at the same time limits it.... [F]ar from being an operation in the limits of the text, deconstruction proceeds from and at the limit of the text.” (Eeckhout 2) Stevens' exercise of and on language can be best understood through deconstructionist thoughts: Stevens' linguistic spells often foretell conceptions that are only coming to be understood (largely owing to the deconstructive and rhetorical theories forwarded by scholars such as burke, de Man, Derrida, Austin, Kristeva, and Foucault). (Cleghorn 117) Cleghorn goes too far when he sees that Stevens preceded Derrida in their thoughts concerning language: I suggest that Stevens pre-dated Derrida's historical question in his poetic search of the motives for metaphor. All of these writers share an avant-garde belief in the power of language to revolutionize cultural thought. Stevens' theoretical poetry suggests that if a healthy culture is to survive, language has to incorporate change and regeneration within its articulation. (Cleghorn 174-5) III-Interpretations i- A Dish of Peaches in Russia The title of the poem reveals the fact that Stevens is fond of number three. It is composed of three words: “dish”, “peaches” and “Russia”; moreover, the poem can be deconstructed into at least three interpretations. The free play of meaning in the phrase “a dish of peaches” exceeds the country borders and delimits space, time and vision: “A Dish of Peaches in Russia” examines a Russian quality which peaches exude beyond that country…Indicatively, a peach may preserve a village, a metropolis may vanish when no one sees it, and the sun rearranges a city: space reveals more than just immobile façade. (Enck 29) Stevens deftly entitled his poem “A Dish of Peaches in Russia”. By so doing, the title suggests three interpretations. The first one is based on a vegetative
image crystallized in an image of "a dish" of tasty "peaches" which the poet eats in Russia. The second is an image of sexual attraction since the word “dish” denotes a sexually attractive person. The third is centered on the word “peaches” which refers to a group of excellent lovable persons whom we love as much as we do peaches. i-a) First Interpretation The first two lines represent the poet’s interaction with the peaches. His happiness is crystallized in the experience of tasting and smelling them: With my body I taste these peaches, I touch them and smell them. Who speaks? (Stevens 206) The attempt at intermingling with peaches, a symbol of nature, colours the image with Romantic pantheism which indicates modern man’s dream of regaining a paradise lost. The image of incarnation, crystallized by the three senses of taste, touch and smell, is distorted by the recurrent question “who speaks?” The following four lines constitute an extended simile where eating tastily is referred to in Angevine’s absorption of Anjou. Then admiration of peaches is likened to an adult lover’s who looks at his beloved, or a young boy who likes the sight of “buds of spring”; or the guitar player’s who is happy playing: I absorb them as the Angevine Absorbs Anjou. I see them as a lover sees As a young lover sees the first buds of spring And as the black Spaniard plays his guitar. (Stevens 206) The simile in Angvine, a resident of Anjou which is a region and former province in West France, in the Loire Valley, denies the peaches’ locative reference. The material substance of the peaches, now a signifier, is metamorphosed into another kind of fruit, only if we consider the free play of meaning of Anjou, a firm-fleshed green-skinned variety of pear. Then he goes on portraying an image of the peach’s beauty, using such definitive qualities as “large”, “round”, “red”, “fuzzy”, “juicy”, “soft” and “colorful”: The peaches are large and round, Ah! and red; and they have peach fuzz, ah! They are full of juice and the skin is soft. They are full of the colors of my village And of fair weather, summer, dew, peace. (Stevens 206)
Time and again, the signifier’s material substance is transformed into an olfactory/aural image of the poet’s village; again the locative reference is displaced. A striking conceit shows itself in the word “colors” since the peaches’ colors remind him of his “village”, “fair weather”, “summer”, “dew” and “peace”. The conceit serves as an excellent portrait of nature embodied in this simple image. The mixture of the signifier and signified embodied in the peaches makes the free play of meaning and plurality of interpretations possible and plausible. The atmosphere of peacefulness is seen in the quiet, sunny room with open windows. However, this complacency is disturbed by the drifting curtains which wake the poet up from such hypnotic state in the presence of peaches: The room is quiet where they are. The windows are open. The sunlight fills The curtains. Even the drifting of the curtains, Slight as it is, disturbs me. (Stevens 206) Though located in a four-walled room, the signifier is still functioning as a means of displacement. The peaches’ locative reference to the poet’s village creates a phantasmagoria where the poet is lost in a day dream, only disturbed by the drifting curtains– a locative reference to Russia. The last two lines suggest another conceit: as the peaches’ beauty controls the poet who is spellbound, detached from the whole world, the disturbing drifting curtains take him out of such a happy mood: I did not know That such ferocities could tear One self from another, as these peaches do. (Stevens 206) The displacing power of the peaches’ beauty is likened to the ferocity of the drifting curtains’. The undecidability felt by the poet and created by the two dislocating factors—the peaches and the drifting curtains— makes the poem subject to deconstruction. A Dish of Peaches in Russia” can read as an excruciating experience of a divided self that, most of the time, tries to identify with undecidable entities, a deconstructionist tincture: …the focus here is on the sensuous pleasure of ripe peaches … . Here the observer’s will and his senses completely possesses the peaches-tasting, touching, and smelling. But the rude “Who speaks?” in line 2 interjects a mild but mysterious disruption. (The question is repeated in 1.7.) The speaker makes it clear that it is he who speaks, but who is he? In tasting the peaches, he is like the Angevine who absorbs his own Anjou-as if
perfectly assimilated to his own world. He is also like the black Spaniard playing his guitar. But then he becomes the Russian exile... A self so divided, a speaker so ungrounded, finds his pleasure in his peaches and his “fair weather, summer, dew, peace” upended… The poem ends abruptly on the “ferocities” and violence of one self torn from another. In the personal focus of Stevens himself that I am attaching to the poem’s speaker one can only recognize a painfully divided self. He is one who longs for the identity of the Angevine of Anjou or the black Spaniard of Spain, but instead is a Russian exile, one separated from his native land. In this poem, Stevens’ transferal of himself in his private life from what we might call his native land and native life to an identity contained within his poems and the world that is captured there makes him a lovely foreigner, an exile. It “disturbs” him. Instead of finding peace and identity in his meditation of summer, here he finds the opposite. The house is not quiet and the world is not calm. (Lensing 307-8). 1-b) Second Interpretation It relies on the figurative meaning of the word “dish”, and on feminine beauty highlighted by the suggestive qualities of the word “peaches”. The first two lines draw an image of a love affair using words such as “body”, “taste”, “touch” and “smell”. The intensity of the affair is underscored in an extended simile in the following four lines, suggested in Angevine’s absorption of Anjou—supposedly a woman with the nice qualities of a pear— in the lover’s look at his beloved, in the young boy’s love of “buds of spring” and in the harmony felt when the player plays his guitar. The poet gives a physical description of the woman’s beauty symbolized in the peach which is “large”, “round”, “red”, “fuzzy”, “juicy” and “soft”. The beauty represented in “colors” suggested a conceit because it reminds him of his village, which may synecdochically refer to beautiful women there. The quiet sunny room with open windows highlights the beauty of the woman. The poet concludes his poem with another conceit: The woman’s beauty and the drifting curtains are similar in that they have a great influence over him. The former so controls him that he is detached away from the whole world while the latter disturbs this harmony. 1-c) Third Interpretation This interpretation works at three removes of the real thing. The material presence of the peaches, as a kind of fruit, is literally denied; thus building up a totally different image from the other two. The first two lines contain a complex simile. The excellent traits of the group of intellectuals, to which the word “peaches” refers, are likened to the material qualities of the fruit through a sensory experience of tasting, touching and smelling. The simile extends to the next four lines. The Angevine-Anjou simile geographically shifts the referential meaning of the peaches and allows the free play of signs to go on indefinitely. Every country
has strata of the elite who can be referred to using the qualities of peaches. Similarly, peaches can signify other fruits such as Anjou which, in turn plays the role of a signifier. The elite-peaches complex simile takes the form of the pleasure felt by the lover who intermingles with nature, especially in spring, and by the Spaniard who enjoys playing the guitar. Following the sequence of signifiers and signifieds created by the peaches is a breathtaking and tiring experience. Stevens likes to provide his reader with a linguistic exercise, difficult in its perception, yet very refreshing. Again, geographical locative reference to “the room” in his Russian exile limits the interpretation of the peaches to the poet and his Russian friends–an interpretation the very title signifies. They are “A Dish of Peaches in Russia”. In addition to this, the poet may intend his friends at home–something referred to in the phrase “my village” and the synecdoche in “colors”. In this case the title should read “a Dish of Peaches (remembered) in Russia”. The poet enjoys the company of his Russian friends as well as his memories with his old friends at home. This company makes him forget his exile. However, the mere drifting of the curtains reminds him that he is in exile even if with a dish of peaches in Russia. These disjointed visions combine together one image—a kind of a patchwork— reflecting the excellent traits of those intellectuals who are as dear to us as lovely peaches. III-2 Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird The very title suggests a deconstructive reading. Since the tool of signification is not stable, the signifier and the signified keep changing from one stanza to the other. Moreover, being of an unidentified nature, the blackbird suggests an endless series of signification where it plays both roles of the signifier/signified. A symbolist reading of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird can offer a kaleidoscopic vision through which hidden facets of the bird are discovered yielding different interpretations: The multiple perspective of the cubist, the dance around the object which causes Picasso to add an eye to his profiles, or the shifting optics of Cézanne, by virtue of which a saucer seems to bulge on either side of a bottle placed in front of it— these modes of vision stress the role of an imaginative eye exploring the hidden facets of an object. This method can also serve in poetry as evidenced by “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. (Benamou 9) Thirteen Ways is a deconstructionist poem that mixes symbolism and imagism in a way that questions the totality of the poem: Stevens' readers were especially accustomed to the pure
poetry of Harmonium, a volume in which French stylistics influenced readers to see a Symbolist legacy. The French presences in the poems, their ornamentation, and Stevens' reputation as a dandy projected an image of a high art that overpowered the subversions occurring in the poems themselves. For instance, "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is an Imagist poem that, through its structural flattening of imagined symbolic wholes, argued against a totalizing, autonomous artform. (Cleghorn 59) “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” is a good long imagist poem, “an arduous feat of poetic legerdemain” (Enck 59-60): This sort of composition never recognizes what it is about; the objects never coalesce with the usually abstract subject. The kaleidoscopic patterns steadily metamorphose the topic without commentary…Stevens most famous example, probably his best known poem, ”Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, with an exhilarating freedom of technique presents the views not in excelsis but through what they derive from and change within their habitat. The ranges through such varieties of meaning and sound impart to the blackbird by its very ubiquity a transcendence; here as in the anecdotes the rhetoric may contradict the subject. It partakes of the quality of a Ravel waltz: the medium cannot encompass the most ambitious levels of artistic intensity, but brilliant improvisation on hackneyed models imparts a nobility or sentiment. ”Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”…makes nearly ideal use of the material: from the short, expected “The river is moving. │The blackbird must be flying.” To the decorative “bawds of euphony│Would cry out sharply.” By excluding any outright statement, the images here create a rich fusing with reality with response to it. (Enck 60) "Thirteen Ways of Looking at A Blackbird" demonstrates the applicability of deconstruction on Stevens's poetry. To this effect, Cleghorn shows that Stevens's work has been subject to deconstructionist studies by different critics: Critics such as J. Hillis Miller, Paul Bove, Michael Beehler, and Melita Schaum have applied deconstruction to Stevens. Schaum's overview, Wallace Stevens and the Critical Schools, includes a chapter entitled "Preferring Text to Gloss: From Decreation to Deconstruction in Stevens Criticism," which clearly conceptualizes these theoretical developments. I utilize
Paul de Man's "rhetoricity" in order to show the playful "confusion between sign and substance" in Stevens' poems. "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" enables readers to observe paradoxes between textual language and what it refers to. (Cleghorn 5) The signifier-signified deconstructionist concept shows at its best in Stevens’ “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. Each way of the thirteen shows the free play between the signifier and its signified. Moreover, the thirteen ways are in constant play. The ways show the things themselves, regardless of what is seen through or behind them. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” can read as thirteen imagist poems, each of which is metamorphosed into something different from the previous one. Seen together, an exotic image of a blackbird is formed. I Among twenty snowy mountains, The only moving thing Was the eye of the blackbird. (Stevens 74) Stanza I seems to reverse the title: the synecdochical reference in the “eye” indicates an onlooker rather than something looked upon. That is why the “eye” functions as a signifier and a signified. On the one hand, the “eye” is a lens which moves quickly from one mountain to the other without concentrating on any of them. On the other hand, it is a thing deliberately seen by the mind’s eye of the reader. The bird’s eye interprets (or rather misinterprets) what it sees; and the poet misreads the white and black scene into a still portrait with an only moving thing, the “eye”. The concept of encompassing twenty mountains and a moving eye in cadre is practically impossible; so each onlooker will have a partially different view of the scene. Consequently, different interpretations will follow. Ethan Lewis maintains: "Way I" is a different type of image, joining two "ideas" by description rather than super-position. "Among" and "only" suggest that the "twenty snowy mountains" and the "eye of the blackbird" compose a single natural scene. We might well impose one image on another in thought, as it is almost physically impossible to behold twenty mountains and a blackbird's eye in one sighting, and we are not invited to visualize them sequentially. (Lewis 1) Stanza II shows how a restatement or an interpretation can help define the thing in view. However, the interpretation/restatement moves into a vicious circle
of meanings: II I was of three minds, Like a tree In which there are three blackbirds. (Stevens 74) The “three minds” may refer to three conditions: being conscious, having something in the subconscious and being unconscious. The simile which likens the speaker’s mind, which is divided into three, to a tree with three blackbirds illustrates the undecidable nature of the signifier-signified relationship. The three blackbirds are ultimately bound to fly off the tree dismantling it of its core. Similarly, the three states of mind cannot present themselves simultaneously; the presence of one necessitates the absence of the other two. Stanza III shifts the reader’s eye to the natural scenery in the first stanza. It intersects the reader’s thoughts and completes the portrait. The contradictory forces that govern the image make the relation between the signifier and signified undecidable. III The blackbird whirled in the autumn winds. It was a small part of the pantomime. (Stevens 75) “Whirl” suggests the interaction between moving and still entities. “Pantomime” reflects the overpower exercised by the solemnity crystallized by the stillness of nature. The first and third stanzas are characterized by movement. The second stanza deconstructs the signification of the eye. The bird, along with its eye, refers to a quick-witted reader whose mind’s eye is subject to a streaming consciousness where different states of mind may intersect together as fast as the blink of an eye. Stanzas I to III show the poet at work exercising linguistic free play at will. The location created by language helps intensify the interconnectedness between the foreground and the background, leaving every reader’s mind’s eye at a loss, unable to decide which refers to what: Do the twenty snowy mountains include the blackbird’s eye or the vice versa? Is the tree, with its three blackbirds, part of the scene, or is it just a linguistic reference to whatever may be in the poet’s mind’s eye? And if it is part of the scene, is it in the foreground or the background? Is the whole scene internal or external to the poet’s/reader’s mind’s eye? These questions perceived by different readers, or may be by the same reader at different misreadings, result in different interpretations, each one of which offers a new attempt at deconstructing the poem according to the Derridean concepts of difference/ différance. Stanza IV indicates complete interconnectedness between the symbol of the blackbird and different human characteristics:
IV A man and a woman Are one. A man and a woman and a blackbird Are one. (Stevens 75) Part of nature now; the atonement of the blackbird and the human beings suggests a Romantic pantheistic image coloured by a modernist sense of isolation felt by the interpreter. The complex simile in the second stanza culminates into a kind of incarnation in the fourth one; thus effacing any stable interpretation of the blackbird. In the meantime, it recalls to mind the Derridan concept of différance since the blackbird is seen as an identical quality to a human being’s rather than as a physical entity. Stanza V presents an auditory image the reception of which is more important than the sounds or the resounding echoes made by the blackbird itself: V I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling Or just after. (Stevens 75) The bird here is perceived as some kind of beautiful music which touches the deep reaches of the human soul creating a sense of harmony between the man and his surroundings. That is why (A man and a woman and a blackbird/Are one.) However, this disjointedness, a characteristic of the stanza and the whole poem, makes a deconstructionist reading plausible. In fact, the poem, and stanza V in particular, is a perfect example of disjointed abstractions that can accept the application of the theory of deconstruction. Cleghorn maintains that: The poet explains in a letter that "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" is "a collection…of sensations" (Letter 251) composing the multi-perspective poem, which neatly returns to an unmoving blackbird at the end, suggesting that each materially abstracted image was, after all, imaginary. Confusion arises from this poem because Stevens emphasizes material language comprising its own reality, while highlighting mental processes involved in creating language, and yet he describes the poem's basis in the sense. He writes "I do not know which to prefer,/The beauty of inflections/ Or the beauty of innuendos,/ The blackbird whistling/ Or just after" (CP93). Perception ("inflections") and reflection ("innuendo") entail sense, then thought. Stevens fabricates "a collection…of sensations" so that we think about the many ways in which thought is generated, particularly by
poetic language that markedly differs from the original lost inflection of the whistling blackbird (of which there may have been none). (Cleghorn 7-8) “Inflections” and “innuendoes” may signify the peripheral state of oneness with nature–an escapable modernist fact. Such a signification puzzles the reader: He is caught between two fires, either to accept the short-lived happiness (the whistling) or the memory left (innuendoes). The fact that the stanza may be interpreted into at least two totally different ways stresses the trait of disjointedness which overwhelms the whole poem. Stanza VI shows the essentiality of the image and how it sometimes represents the thing itself. These contrasting images of movement/stillness and animation/catatonia are part and parcel of the state of man in the modern world: VI Icicles filled the long window With barbaric glass. The shadow of the blackbird Crossed it, to and fro. The mood Traced in the shadow An indecipherable cause. (Stevens 75) The blackbird with its shadow which cuts through the still “barbaric glass” recalls the earlier phrase of “the only moving thing”. The blackbird’s shadow represents the only animating force which hovers over that white nothingness which, at its best, reflects death in life. Being catatonic, the mood is in disharmony with the shadow of animation. Time and again, snow intensifies the sense of isolation. “Icicle” and “barbaric glass” reminds the reader of the first stanza where “snowy mountains” underscore a sense of overwhelming estrangement and isolation. The improbability of achieving oneness is further stressed by the word “shadow”. It is the “shadow” not the “blackbird” itself which “crosses”, rather than steps into, isolation. However, indefatigable efforts are exerted as seen in “to and fro”. The intersection between the “mood” and the “shadow” endorses a sense of impossible incarnation between them, suggested by “indecipherable cause”. In stanza IV the blackbird signifies some common characteristics between women and men. However, stanza VII suggests the opposite. The blackbird has become a gender marker, a peculiar feminine trait imperceptible by men of Haddam: VII O thin men of Haddam, Why do you imagine golden birds? Do you not see how the blackbird Walks around the feet
Of the women about you? (Stevens 75) The bird functions as a signifier which refers to two contradictory things: the unattainable, referred to in fanciful image of “golden birds”, and the available whose shadow is there around us. The concepts of difference and différance show themselves. These two different interpretations cannot be perceived simultaneously, one must overshadow the other. Stanza VIII completes the auditory image started in stanza V. VIII I know noble accents And lucid, inescapable rhythms; But I know, too, That the blackbird is involved In what I know. (Stevens 75-6) The blackbird penetrates the speaker’s linguistic knowledge with its “noble accents” and “lucid inescapable rhythms”. The image of the blackbird illustrates the concept of metalanguage and shows the free play of signs. The blackbird refers to a linguistic area that falls between “noble accents” and “inescapable rhythms”. Stanza IX can receive a plurality of interpretations according to different readers’ perception of the “circles” marked by the blackbird. IX When the blackbird flew out of sight, It marked the edge Of one of many circles. (Stevens 76) The blackbird changes into a common animating factor, a light when shed properly on any stage on man’s life or in any step during a process—indicated in “one of many circles”—strikes a chord in all of us. The word “circles”, an archetypal spatial symbol, evokes different interpretations. The circle illustrates both the signifier and the signified, the eye and what it sees. Stevens’ circles are indefinite and, of course, differently perceived. The linguistic location, the word “circles”, gives room to the free play of speculation by virtue of which the thirteen ways can verbally be constructed. However, the physical structure of the circle limits the line of thought, whatever diverse it may be. This idea is further referred to in the word “edge” which the blackbird cuts through, endorsing a linguistic limit of vision and thought. Seen from a different angle, the “edge” may be a structurally linguistic marker which indicates the presence of other circles. Diverse as they may be, these circles constitute one unified whole.
The idea of the light continues into stanza X; however, this time the blackbird does not signify light. Rather, it signifies the hidden potentialities which, when highlighted, the unexpected may take place: X At the sight of blackbirds Flying in a green light, Even the bawds of euphony Would cry out sharply. (Stevens 76) The relation between “sight” and “light” underscores the necessary bond between the signifier and the signified. The free play of meaning needs to be in sight and under light. The linguistic interpretation of the blackbird shows itself again as it is opposed to “euphony”, to the “noble accents” and “lucid inescapable rhythms”. Indescribable fear from getting into contact with the outside world, a fear construed in the form of a shadow of a blackbird, penetrates all kinds of defence even the verbal one, leaving the rider struck dumb. Even euphony and lucidity disappear and cannot resist such fear: XI He rode over Connecticut In a glass coach. Once, a fear pierced him, In that he mistook the shadow of his equipage For blackbirds. (Stevens 76) The impenetrable shell man isolates himself in is so fragile that it can be pierced by its own shadow which is mistaken for a blackbird. In fact the blackbird is a shadow of a shadow. The stanza provides a perfect example of misreading and misinterpretation. The rider escapes reality and retreats into “a glass coach” and, with the passage of time; he takes/mistakes it for the real world. That’s why fear penetrates him when he mistakes the shadow of the glassy coach, now a shadow of the real world, for a shadow of a blackbird. Death-in-life shows itself in the eleventh stanza in “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. Self-isolation creates a sense of catatonia: Faced with poems like “The Emperor of Ice-cream”, “Cortège for Rosenbloom”, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”, or “Sunday Morning” itself, readers have often noticed that death infects the lovely world of Harmonium that a consciousness of morality keeps that world alive. But death does not enter Harmonium the way its shadow pierces the glass coach in the
eleventh section of “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”. For Stevens, such an invasion occurs only when we foolishly attempt to survive in something like a glass coach–the glassy essence of the mind–whose equipage itself reminds us of what we attempt to avert. ( Longenbach 68) Stanza XII is in sharp contrast with the preceding one. Though the blackbird is a common factor of signification in both stanzas, the former is negative and the latter is positive. The blackbird in stanza XII can be interpreted as a life giving force, an animation that flows in the world as fast as a river does: XII The river is moving. The blackbird must be flying. Time and again, the blackbird is a shadow of a shadow. The first shadow in stanza XI is concretely perceived, while the second shadow—invisible everywhere except in the mind’s eye only—is grasped through an aural image resulting from the sound of the fast flowing water. This time the blackbird refers to a sound-created reflection in the reader’s mind. With stanza XIII the coup is complete and the wheel has come to the full. The blackbird which starts flying “among twenty snowy mountains”, undergoing different kinds of metamorphoses each stanza, returns once more to the snowy atmosphere and rests “in the cedar-limbs”: XIII It was evening all afternoon. It was snowing And it was going to snow. The blackbird sat In the cedar-limbs. (Stevens 76) The time reference in the phrase “evening all afternoon”, which encompasses the closing stanza with a gloomy atmosphere, is crucial to the interpretation of the blackbird, the only unifying symbol of the thirteen stanzas. The blackbird is the dark corner which lurks in the deep reaches of the human soul and, when all futile attempts to cope with the world fail, creeps furtively to man’s mind. Such an atmosphere causes disorder and justifies all (mis)interpretations. The opening three stanzas, along with stanza thirteen, question the logic which governs the poem as a whole. To a similar effect, Cleghorn says: These lines "embarrass their own ruling systems of logic"
by contrasting statements and images in each sequence of the poem. "The only moving thing," the eye of the singular blackbird, is contrasted by "three blackbirds," and, next, a whirling blackbird. This poem denies that language can be definitive and that an image can be effectively represented in stasis. The poem especially deconstructs when, following the birds that whirl through the middle of the poem, the thirteenth sequence returns the blackbird to its singular static position that it had in stanza I. This return to the initial narrative position throws into question the haphazard events in between. The diverse images are out of whack, and they also appear to be completely illusory because the first and final static images enclose the poem in an unsettling unity denying the various plots in between. Besides teasing the reader's mind for the fun of it, Stevens undermines the confident logics with which we see, comprehend, write, and narrate. In the 13 stanzas, narrative refuses linear progression, and therefore challenges the prevalent view that stanzas are consequential. Unsettling these functions that produce knowledge is one of the few constants in Stevens' poetry. (Cleghorn 5-6)
IV- Conclusion The plurality of interpretations of Stevens’s two poems “A Dish of Peaches in Russia” and “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” shows the ingenuity of Stevens’s presentation of words at play. The two titles are highly suggestive: A dish full of peaches gives a sense of variety which the researcher construes into three interpretations. The controlling image in the second poem is of a highly complicated portrayal of the blackbird viewed through a multifaceted lens. The blackbird is the animating force of potentiality that occupies the space between potency and act, postulation of becoming and adoption of perspectivism, desire and consummation. Stanzas I and XIII encompass diverse interpretations of one symbol, (a) referential blackbird(s). The fact that a bird’s eye is anatomically incapable of moving, underscores its metaphorical importance. The various contexts created throughout "Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird" might be considered from the romantic point of view as haphazard attempts at defining or identifying the writing subject's relation to an object that is already ambiguous in itself, and is a symbol rich in potential for producing hopes and fears.
- Appel, Joshua. "Words and the World: Reflections on the Possibility of Hermeneutical Realism". Online. 15th Sept 2006. Available: http://www.thirdmill.org/files/english/practical_theology/91816~6_6_2003 _10-07-30_AM~PT.Appel.epistemology.realism.hall.frame.htm -Benamou, Michel. Wallace Stevens and the Symbolist Imagination. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1972. -Bevis, William W. Mind of Winter Wallace Stevens’ Meditation, and Literature. Pittsburg: University of Pittsburg Press, 1988. - Carrigan, Cky J. "Jacque Derrida, Deconstructionism & Postmodernism." Online. 14th Feb., 2006. Available on www.ontruth.com
-Cleghorn, Angus J. Wallace Stevens’ Poetics: The Neglected Rhetoric. New York: Palgrave, 2000. -Critchley, Simon. Things Merely Are Philosophy in the poetry of Wallace Stevens. London: Routledge, 2005. - Eeckhout, Bart. Wallace Stevens and the Limits of Reading and Writing. Columbia, Mo: University of Missouri Press, 2002. -Enck, John. Wallace Stevens Images and Judgments. Preface by Harry T. Moore. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1964. - Gerold Sedlmayr, Passau. “Breaking Through the Closure: Deconstruction and the Ethical Reading of Literature”. Online.12th Feb., 2006. Available
- Jennings, Jean B. Wallace Stevens: Hermetic Modernist. Ph.D. Dallas: The University of Texas, 1996. -Leitch, Vincent. “Deconstructive Criticism: an Advanced Introduction”. New York: Columbia UP, 1981. (excerpted by Clifford Stetner) Online. 1st Jan, 2007. Available http://phoenixandturtle.net/excerptmill/leitch.html - Lensing, George S. Wallace Stevens and the Seasons. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2001. -Lewis, Ethan. “Thirteen Ways of Looking at Imagism”. Online. 13th Aug., 2006. Availablehttp://www.ua.es/personal/jalvarez/Word/Adiciones%20de %202005/lewis.rtf - Longenbach, James. Wallace Stevens The Plain Sense of Things. New York, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. - McNamara, Olwen. "Derrida, Saussure and Meaning." Online. 15th Jan., 2007. Available http://www.partnership.mmu ac.uk/cme/chreods/Issue_10/Olwen.html/ -Norris, Christopher. Deconstruction: Theory and Practice.(1991) (3rd edition) New York: Routledge, 2002.
- Olson, Rex. "Martini or Bikini? The Question of Différance Between
Philosophy and Literature". Online. 14th July, 2006. Available
http://www.janushead.org/JHFall98/rolsen.cfm -Stevens, Wallace. Collected Poetry and Prose. USA: The Library of America, 1996. -Swede, George. “Haiku in English in North America”. (From: Haiku Canada Newsletter, vol. 10, no. 2, January 1997 and vol. 10, no. 3, March 1997.) Online. 20th Jan. 2007. Available: http://www.atreide.net/rendezvous/canangl.htm - Vehkavaara, Tommi. "A Metaontology and the Metaphysics of Différance A Hermeneutical Interpretation of Différance and its relation to metaphysics." Online. 15th Nov,2006. Available http://mtl.uta.fi/ %7Eattove/Meta_uus.htm
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.