The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose, Volume IV, 1956-1962

Overview

This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose provides a unique picture of this legendary writer's mind and art when he was at the height of his powers, from 1956 through 1962, including the years when he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. The volume includes his best-known and most important prose collection, The Dyer's Hand, as well as scores of essays, reviews, and lectures on subjects ranging from J. R. R. Tolkien and Martin Luther to psychedelic drugs, cooking, and Homer. Much of the material has never been ...

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Overview

This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose provides a unique picture of this legendary writer's mind and art when he was at the height of his powers, from 1956 through 1962, including the years when he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. The volume includes his best-known and most important prose collection, The Dyer's Hand, as well as scores of essays, reviews, and lectures on subjects ranging from J. R. R. Tolkien and Martin Luther to psychedelic drugs, cooking, and Homer. Much of the material has never been collected in book form, and some selections, such as the witty orations Auden wrote for ceremonies at Oxford University, are almost entirely unknown.

Edward Mendelson's introduction and comprehensive notes provide biographical and historical explanations of all obscure references. The text includes extensive corrections and revisions that Auden marked in personal copies of his work and which are printed here for the first time.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Review of Books
Praise for the previous volume: Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . [T]he articles will delight any reader with their wit, charm, and elegance.
— Charles Rosen
London Review of Books
Volume IV of Auden's prose . . . is, like the others, edited by Edward J. Mendelson with unparalleled care and discretion, but it allows us an additional pleasure, since The Dyer's Hand occupies its last major part. Thus we can read that book as Auden wanted us to, before or after we look at the rest of the prose . . . or we could just dip and skim in the whole volume, go away and come back, guided by names and titles and chance—there's plenty to keep us busy.
Books & Culture
This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose, edited and introduced by Edward Mendelson with customary mastery, covers a mere six years of the poet's life. But they were eventful years for him, personally and intellectually. . . . The whole of The Dyer's Hand appears in this volume of the Complete Works, and most of what Auden drew from in making up the book is here, too, in its original and unrevised form.
— Alan Jacobs
Gay and Lesbian Review
I can give this collection a strong recommendation.
— Alfred Corn
Books & Culture - Alan Jacobs
This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose, edited and introduced by Edward Mendelson with customary mastery, covers a mere six years of the poet's life. But they were eventful years for him, personally and intellectually. . . . The whole of The Dyer's Hand appears in this volume of the Complete Works, and most of what Auden drew from in making up the book is here, too, in its original and unrevised form.
Gay and Lesbian Review - Alfred Corn
I can give this collection a strong recommendation.
Review of English Studies - Emily Kane
While most pieces of the volume can be found in other manners, this compilation enables readers to discover more easily and efficiently gems of prose phrasing about poetry, criticism and their purpose, and the poet's readings of and connections between his work and that of his contemporaries and predecessors in significantly contemplative years of his life.
New York Review of Books - Charles Rosen
Praise for the previous volume: Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . [T]he articles will delight any reader with their wit, charm, and elegance.
London Review of Books - Frank Kermode
Praise for the previous volume: When you add in the volumes already devoted to plays, libretti, poems, it becomes hard to avoid describing the whole enterprise as heroic. In fact it could also be described as unique, for no other twentieth-century English poet has been so fully and patiently honoured.
David Marx Book Reviews - David Marx
If anything, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose, Volume IV, 1956-1962 is a literary tour-de-force, that covers as well as conveys, almost everything this ultimate poet, writer, quintessential observer of life and critic, was all about. . . . [This] is a very well conceived and comprehensive 'lucky accident.' Not to mention an all-round, terrific book.
From the Publisher
"Volume IV of Auden's prose . . . is, like the others, edited by Edward J. Mendelson with unparalleled care and discretion, but it allows us an additional pleasure, since The Dyer's Hand occupies its last major part. Thus we can read that book as Auden wanted us to, before or after we look at the rest of the prose . . . or we could just dip and skim in the whole volume, go away and come back, guided by names and titles and chance—there's plenty to keep us busy."—London Review of Books

"This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose, edited and introduced by Edward Mendelson with customary mastery, covers a mere six years of the poet's life. But they were eventful years for him, personally and intellectually. . . . The whole of The Dyer's Hand appears in this volume of the Complete Works, and most of what Auden drew from in making up the book is here, too, in its original and unrevised form."—Alan Jacobs, Books & Culture

"I can give this collection a strong recommendation."—Alfred Corn, Gay and Lesbian Review

"If anything, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose, Volume IV, 1956-1962 is a literary tour-de-force, that covers as well as conveys, almost everything this ultimate poet, writer, quintessential observer of life and critic, was all about. . . . [This] is a very well conceived and comprehensive 'lucky accident.' Not to mention an all-round, terrific book."—David Marx, David Marx Book Reviews

Praise for the previous volume: Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . [T]he articles will delight any reader with their wit, charm, and elegance."—Charles Rosen, New York Review of Books

Praise for the previous volume: When you add in the volumes already devoted to plays, libretti, poems, it becomes hard to avoid describing the whole enterprise as heroic. In fact it could also be described as unique, for no other twentieth-century English poet has been so fully and patiently honoured."—Frank Kermode, London Review of Books

Praise for the previous volume: No major writer's complete works are more fun to read."—Publishers Weekly

"While most pieces of the volume can be found in other manners, this compilation enables readers to discover more easily and efficiently gems of prose phrasing about poetry, criticism and their purpose, and the poet's readings of and connections between his work and that of his contemporaries and predecessors in significantly contemplative years of his life."—Emily Kane, Review of English Studies

London Review of Books
Praise for the previous volume: "When you add in the volumes already devoted to plays, libretti, poems, it becomes hard to avoid describing the whole enterprise as heroic. In fact it could also be described as unique, for no other twentieth-century English poet has been so fully and patiently honoured.
— Frank Kermode
New York Review of Books
Praise for the previous volume: "Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . [T]he articles will delight any reader with their wit, charm, and elegance.
— Charles Rosen
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691147550
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 10/7/2010
  • Series: Complete Works of W.H. Auden Series
  • Pages: 1056
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 2.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Edward Mendelson is the literary executor of the Estate of W. H. Auden and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His books include "Early Auden", "Later Auden", and "The Things That Matter".

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Acknowledgements xi
Introduction xiii
The Text of This Edition xxxvii

ESSAYS AND REVIEWS, 1956-1962
At the End of the Quest, Victory 3
An Appreciation of the Lyric Verse of Walter de la Mare 6
Stimulating Scholarship 8
Hic et Ille 12
Introduction to Selected Writings of Sydney Smith 13
Introduction to The Descent of the Dove, by Charles Williams 25
Wisdom, Wit, Music 30
Making, Knowing and Judging 34
Walter de la Mare 34
An Eye for Mystery 37

Foreword to The Green Wall, by James Wright 39
The Great Captains 44
D. H. Lawrence as a Critic 48
Dostoevsky in Siberia 53
Concrete and Fastidious 57
Squares and Oblongs 63
The Wish Game 66
Guy Burgess 67
The Voltaire of Music 67
A Great Hater 71
A Grecian Eye 74
Just How I Feel 77
Sydney Smith: The Kind-Hearted Wit 82
West's Disease 88
Straw Without Bricks 88
Seventh Heavens 92
Crying Spoils the Appearance 95
Preface to Nulla Vogliamo dal Sogno, by Nino D'Ambra 99
Commentary on the Poetry and Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet 100

Foreword to A Crackling of Thorns, by John Hollander 113
Talent, Genius, and Unhappiness 118
The Great Divide 129
"A Mental Prince" 132
Music in Shakespeare: Its Dramatic Use in His Plays 135
Preface to Jean Sans Terre, by Yvan Goll 135
A Jolly Magpie 137
Reflections upon Reading Werner Jaeger's Paideia 145
The Life of a That-There Poet 153
The Kitchen of Life 166
The Sacred Cold 173
A Song of Life's Power to Renew 177

Foreword to Of the Festivity, by William Dickey 179
Thinking What We Are Doing 184
The Creation of Music and Poetry 190
The Co-Inherence 197
The Greek Self 201
Calm Even in the Catastrophe 209
John Betjeman's Poetic Universe 216
The Private Life of a Public Man 221
Miss Marianne Moore, Bless Her! 226
The Fallen City: Some Reflections on Shakespeare's Henry IV 230
Foreword: Brand versus Peer 230

Foreword to Times Three, by Phyllis McGinley 241
The Magician from Mississippi 247
A Children's Anthology 251
Apologies to the Iroquois 252
An Unclassical Classic 259
The Queen Is Never Bored 266
Foreword to Van Gogh: A Self-Portrait 281
Statement by W. H. Auden on Cultural Freedom 282
Greatness Finding Itself 283
K 289

Introduction to The Complete Poems of Cavafy 290
Two Ways of Poetry 298
The Problem of Nowness 303
Three Memoranda on the New Arden Shakespeare: From W. H. Auden 307
A Public Art 309
Il Faut Payer 312
The Poet as Professor 317
Two Cultural Monuments 320

Introduction to Italian Journey, by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 324
The Case Is Curious 333
Ronald Firbank and an Amateur World 335
A Poet of Honor 342
The Alienated City: Reflections on Othello 347
A Marriage of True Minds 348
Dag Hammarskjöld 354
The Untruth about Beethoven 356
The Quest Hero 360
A Universal Eccentric 374
The Conscience of an Artist 378
Books of the Year . . . from W. H. Auden 382
The Chemical Life 382
Anger 385

Foreword to The Viking Book of Aphorisms 390
A Marianne Moore Reader 392
The Poet and the City 395
Introduction to A Choice of de la Mare's Verse 396
Today's Poet 404
A Disturbing Novelist 405
"The Geste Says this and the Man Who Was on the Field . . ." 408
The Justice of Dame Kind 412
Today's "Wonder-World" Needs Alice 414
Strachey's Cry 422
Are the English Europeans? 428
Do You Know Too Much? 436
Mirror: A Set of Notes 441
England & Europe 441

THE DYER'S HAND
The Dyer's Hand 447
APPENDICES
I Creweian Orations 829
II Auden as Anthologist and Editor 848
III Public Lectures 858
IV Auden on the Air 873
V Endorsements and Citations 892
VI Public Letters Signed by Auden and Others 896
VII Translations 898
VIII Lost and Unwritten Work 900
TEXTUAL NOTES
Essays and Reviews, 1956-1962 903
The Dyer's Hand 945
Index of Titles and Books Reviewed 979

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