December 29, 2008

Reason in its more amiable aspects

For me, Stendhal is the embodiment of the principle of prose. I don't mean literary reality, but reason in its more amiable aspects. No doubt Stendhal will survive Flaubert, because Stendhal is a point of reference for the mature, while Flaubert is a point of reference for the artist, and perhaps for the immature. Flaubert takes possession of the immature and almost develops a sense of maturity and of competence and strength.

-- Stevens, in a letter (June 20, 1945).

... Possibly this rhymes with a phrase in a letter three years later, discussing artists not authors: "fantasy on the one hand and realism on the other: evasion and evasion."