When Opus Posthumous first appeared in 1957, it was an appropriate capstone to the career of one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. It included many poems missing from Stevens's Collected Poems, along with Stevens's characteristically inventive prose and pieces for the theater.
Now Milton J. Bates, the author of the acclaimed Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self, has edited and revised Opus Posthumous to correct the previous edition's errors and to incorporate material that has come to light since original publication. A third of the poems and essays in this edition are new to the volume. The resulting book is an invaluable literary document whose language and insights are fresh, startling, and eloquent.
Intended as a companion volume to Stevens's Collected Poems , the Opus Posthumous miscellany (first issued in 1957) contains some of his deepest poetic ruminations on the imagination and the limits of knowledge, along with many verses that seem like metaphysical doodles, mere dress rehearsals for larger poems. The book also includes three philosophical playlets, notes on Stevens's poetry, plus essays on diverse themes: living in Connecticut, the irrational in poetry, Raoul Dufy's lithographs, reading T. S. Eliot to stay young, etc. Original to this revised edition is a wonderful batch of first-rate aphorisms (e.g., ``All poetry is experimental poetry''). Among the newly added poems, the standout is ``Carnet de Voyage'' (1914), an early sequence in which Stevens tentatively sounded his mature themes. Previously uncollected essays and jottings include jejune scribbling on the insurance industry and oracular pronouncements in the form of Stevens's replies to questionnaires sent by Partisan Review and other magazines. Bates is the author of Wallace Stevens: A Mythology of Self.