All of Valery's major meditations on the theory and practice of poetry are included in this volume. T.S. Eliot writes in his introduction that Valery "invented, and was to impose on his age . . . a new conception of the poet." In Valery's own words, the poet is characterized as a "cool scientist, almost an algebraist, in the service of a subtle dreamer." Valery focuses his attention on the deliberate formal work that transforms the dream into the poem, in his own poems, as well as in analyses of La Fontaine, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, the Symbolists, Mallarme, Rimbaud, and others.
"These essays should come into the hands of everyone interested not only in the now almost mythical figure of Valery but in the evolving situation of poetry and poetic theory in our time."--The New Yorker