Author Edward Mendelson Later Auden

ISBN 13: 9780571197842

Later Auden

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9780571197842: Later Auden

The definitive study of Auden's poems from 1939 to 1973.

"For a poet like myself, an autobiography is redundant," W. H. Auden wrote to a friend, "since anything of importance that happens to one is immediately incorporated, however obscurely, in a poem." This book is the history of Auden's poems, and of the events that went into them, from the time he moved to the United States until his death, completing the story begun in Edward Mendelson's acclaimed Early Auden.

Later Auden links the changes in Auden's intellectual, emotional, religious, and erotic life with his shifting public roles--as representative of political causes, as researcher working with the U.S. Army in postwar Germany, as public moralist, as lecturer and teacher, and above all as poet. Mendelson deftly reveals how Auden converted the success and later wreckage of his relationship with Chester Kallman into the seemingly impersonal meditations of some of his long poems, and explores the ways his later poetry celebrates the human body and represents it in verse. Throughout, he reveals the depth of Auden's struggles with himself and with the temptations of his growing fame, showing how these struggles gave shape to his imperishable art.

This inner biography of a great poet and thinker has unusual breadth and intensity. An absorbing narrative of a varied, productive life, it will interest everyone who cares about literature.

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Review:

Edward Mendelson was handpicked by W.H. Auden as his literary executor. As the man who has overseen every posthumous edition of the poet's work, Mendelson has an intimate understanding of Auden's writings that few can match. While Later Auden is, of course, in one sense a sequel to Early Auden, it is also complete unto itself, and although it does contain some biographical elements, it is not strictly speaking a biography--more a work of literary criticism informed by biography. Thus, while beginning with Auden's 1939 arrival in the United States from his native England, Mendelson immediately launches into an extended analysis of the poem "In Memory of W.B. Yeats," which in turn leads to a discussion of Auden's conception of the poetic "gift" in battle with his intellect. Ample space is given throughout the book for Auden's poetry and prose, revealing rather than describing his views on politics, literature, sexuality, and other issues. But Mendelson is always careful to show how, even when Auden is positioning himself at his most detached, the writings are always informed by his life's circumstances. Later Auden (along with its companion volume) is probably the closest we shall ever come to an indispensable guide to Auden's work--and perhaps the next best thing to reading the poems themselves.

About the Author:

Edward Melson, born in 1946, is professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University. He lives with his wife and son in New York City.

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Mendelson, Edward
Published by faber and faber (1999)
ISBN 10: 0571197841 ISBN 13: 9780571197842
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Edward Mendelson
Published by faber and faber (1999)
ISBN 10: 0571197841 ISBN 13: 9780571197842
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