Wallace Stevens, James Merrill, and the way of the dandy

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Janice Moore Fuller (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Keith Cushman

Abstract: Wallace Stevens and James Merrill seem to embody in their lives and poems the qualities of the dandy—not the fin de siècle dandyism of mere stylized dress, social hauteur, and public theatrics but the complete philosophy of life described by Jules Barbey D'Aurevilly and Baudelaire, who recognize in the dandy's mannerisms a spiritual significance and heroic mission--escaping the triviality, conformity, and tastelessness of modern existence. In his meticulous dress, scornful aloofness, haughty wit, and cosmopolitan tastes, Stevens cultivates a dandyism that guards against the poverty of life threatened by his "burgher" existence as an insurance lawyer. Merrill uses his dandyism (his refined dress, emotional displacement, political privatization, and witty circle of friends) to transcend the mechanical life of his parents' privileged world and live the purer life of Baudelaire's dandy.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 1989
Stevens, Wallace, $d 1879-1955 $x Criticism and interpretation
Stevens, Wallace, $d 1879-1955 $x Style
Merrill, James, $d 1926-1995 $x Criticism and interpretation
Merrill, James, $d 1926-1995 $x Style

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