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THE HIDDEN LAW. The Poetry of W.H. Auden

Hecht, Anthony (W.H. Auden)

6 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0674390067 / ISBN 13: 9780674390065
Published by Cambridge Harvard U. Press (1993)., 1993
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Fine in near fine d/w. 1st edition. Binding is cloth. Bookseller Inventory # 006478

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE HIDDEN LAW. The Poetry of W.H. Auden

Publisher: Cambridge Harvard U. Press (1993).

Publication Date: 1993

Binding: Hardcover

Dust Jacket Condition: Dust Jacket Included

Edition: F.

About this title


In this study - the fruit of a lifelong critical and imaginative engagement with W.H. Auden's works - Anthony Hecht identifies and traces consistent habits of thought and belief within the poet's extensive and varied writings and through his celebrated conversions and repudiations, literary and otherwise. Hecht acknowledges that Auden's poems "both invite the intrusive scrutiny of the cryptographer and deny him access". Yet the readings he offers of poems from every phase of Auden's career, along with dramatic works and critical essays, manage to explicate and illuminate Auden's rich (and often cryptic) allusiveness without murdering to dissect. Among the themes that connect Auden's works are his deep interest in the workings of language; his notion of the ultimate frivolity of art; his interest in the nature of heroism; his understanding of the relation of public to private life; the development of his religious thought; and what Auden called the "hidden law" that governs human existence - a strict and retaliatory force, something like poetic justice, that gives form to our best literature and shapes our personal fates. Hecht identifies these preoccupations in Auden's works - and shows how they cut across the many genres in which he wrote - without losing sight of each poem's individual history and context. As one of Auden's poetic heirs, Anthony Hecht is well qualified to illuminate both the reading and the writing of these significant works of 20th century literature.

From Library Journal:

Hecht, a recognized authority on Auden and one of our finest poets and critics ( The Transparent Man, LJ 6/15/90; Obbligati, LJ 8/86) , here offers a superbly crafted paean to Auden's poetry. He reads Auden's poems chronologically in order to demonstrate the relationship between Auden's life and art. Such readings not only reveal prominent motifs and themes--the notion of art as frivolity, the idea of heroism, the dichotomy of public world/private self, the centrality of language, the Hidden Law, a kind of poetic justice that governs literature and life--but also demonstrate influences on Auden, which included Kierkegaard, Rimbaud, Eliot, and Hardy. One wishes that Hecht had done a better job of citing his sources, but this is a minor weakness given the insights he generates from his readings of "New Year Letter" and "For the Time Being." The respect for Auden's art, evident in Hecht's lucid prose and gracious readings, makes this book a fine introduction to Auden's work. Highly recommended.
- Henry L. Carrigan Jr., Westerville P.L., Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Charles Seluzicki, Fine & Rare Books, ABAA was established in the late 70's in Baltimore, Maryland. At that time, first specializing exclusively in poetry, we started our Fine Press Series and have published fine press books and broadsides by notable poets and writers: Ted Hughes, Seamus Heaney, Charles Simic, Tess Gallagher, Czeslaw Milosz, Mark Strand and a host of others. Projects by Charles Simic and Robert Lowell are in the works. Visitors are welcome by appointment.

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