Robert's Reviews > The Necessary Angel: Essays on Reality and the Imagination

The Necessary Angel by Wallace Stevens
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Oct 25, 2011

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Read in September, 2011

I read the first essay of this book about a year ago and was blown away. The writing style was convoluted and logically frayed... but the punchline was good enough that I am still trying to figure out how best to ink it on my skin.

So, as I began to prepare for my final thesis, I knew full well that the first essay would be a part of it... "nobility is the violence within us that presses back against the violence from without"... but I felt nauseous at the thought that I would include it without having read the rest of the book. Intellectually negligent.

Having finished it about a month ago, I finally have found a moment to write about it... and I must say nothing compares to that first essay. The book as a whole suffers from a repetition of concepts, as though we need this many tiny variations on his endless championing of poetry as the thread that can weave together reality and imagination... and I can assure you that I do not need all of them.

But the flashes of brilliance keep shining through the knotty sentences, and so you keep reading. And I am glad I did, because there were some further developments of thought that I believe will be helpful in my writing.

Overall though, I wish he had applied some of his skill and intelligence to other ideas and subjects... like, just off the top of my head... perhaps an essay on the question of suicide as it relates to imagination, or the problem of familiarity as it hampers aesthetic imagination, or the issues of commodification of the text... or gods, anything else! How can he be so insightful and so myopic simultaneously?!?!

Oh well... I am still going to get that tattoo.
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