The Web of Friendship
Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens
Traces the ways in which two important poets shaped and reshaped each other's work
The Web of Friendship offers a lively critical account of the little-known and long-lived poetic and personal relationship between Marianne Moore (1887-1972) and Wallace Stevens (1879-1955). Robin G. Schulze traces the two poets' give-and-take from the years immediately following the First World War to Stevens's death in 1955 and explores how events like the Great Depression, the rise of leftist poets in the 1920s and 1930s, and the devastation of the Second World War shaped their poetic exchange. She provides a unique account of the poignant personal conversation between Moore and Stevens in the 1950s, their final years of close friendship before Stevens's death. Grounded in manuscript study, The Web of Friendship also uncovers hitherto unknown source materials for a number of Stevens's and Moore's poems that lead to fresh interpretations of their verse.
Finally, Moore's unexplored, principally supportive relationship with Stevens is a complex illustration of cross-gender cooperation that suggests new ways of understanding poetic influence as historically, archivally, and biographically contextualized conversation.
The Web of Friendship makes a valuable contribution not only to the study of Moore's and Stevens's poetry, but to the consideration of modernist poetry generally and the broader study of poetic influence.
Robin G. Schulze is Assistant Professor of English, Pennsylvania State University.
Praise / Awards
"An absolutely necessary book . . . belongs with Longenbach's important study of Stevens as a part of a new way of reading the Modernists."
--Margaret Dickie, University of Georgia
"[Schulze proves herself] an astute collator of materials and a moving but unobtrusive narrator."
--Times Literary Supplement
"Telling the story of Moore's and Stevens' private and public conversations over many years, [Schulze] eloquently describes their personal and artistic intersections. . . . Her readings of individual poems in the context of their respective canons strike me as both a strength of the book and an effective way of establishing the intensity of their dialogue. Her treatment of archival material is also impressive. Making extensive use of the unpublished archival record of Moore's responses to Stevens, which we find in her letters, reading notebooks, manuscripts, and copies of Stevens' books, Schulze handles this material meticulously, gracefully extending the analysis of it offered by previous Moore scholars. . . . The Web of Friendship is a valuable and lucid study of two poets whose work comes into focus in new ways when read together. As such, it constitutes a genuine contribution to Moore and Stevens scholarship."
--Wallace Stevens Journal
". . . a careful, cogent study of the complicated literary relationship between Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens. . . . [The] clarity of Schulze's thought, her effective marshaling of evidence throughout most of the book, and the unusual nature of the relationship between the poets themselves prove most telling. This is a significant, well-reasoned study, sure to challenge quite a few prevailing attitudes about the paradigms of influence that still dominate scholarship."
--Alan Michael Parker, American Literature
". . . an excellent and heartening book. . . ."
--Year's Work in English Studies, Volume 76, 1998
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