Readings of Wallace Stevens' "The Comedian as the Letter C" take several directions. The allegorical, literal, and philosophical aspects of the poem have received much attention and have illuminated ways in which the poem can be meaningful. The style of the poem, however, has been of constant interest to critics, and aspects of it have attracted attention, but those readings that deal with it do not concern the narrator's function in the comedy of the poem. It is my belief that the poem would perhaps be more accessible if the kind of comic technique in it were explained. Crispin's reduction or "humbling" is effected not by dramatization, but by direct account of the narrator. He tells us about Crispin's assimilation into the quotidian, observes, reflects, and comments on his ordinary fortunes, amuses himself by showing how Crispin's career began with "green brag/Concluding fadedly" — always, however, with gaiety and some affection. The narrator efficiently leads the readers to understand the progress of Crispin's fortunes, because the poem is in the past tense, thus affording us an overview. Since the narrator knows the outcome when he begins to tell his story, his telling of it can be our primary source of evaluation.
Marre, K. E.
"Narrative Comedy in Wallace Stevens' "The Comedian as the Letter C","
University of Dayton Review: Vol. 12:
3, Article 14.
Available at: https://ecommons.udayton.edu/udr/vol12/iss3/14