For the Time Being: A Christmas Oratorio

Overview

For the Time Being is a pivotal book in the career of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. W. H. Auden had recently moved to America, fallen in love with a young man to whom he considered himself married, rethought his entire poetic and intellectual equipment, and reclaimed the Christian faith of his childhood. Then, in short order, his relationship fell apart and his mother, to whom he was very close, died. In the midst of this period of personal crisis and intellectual remaking, he decided to ...

See more details below
Hardcover
$15.61
BN.com price
(Save 21%)$19.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (15) from $9.49   
  • New (7) from $11.96   
  • Used (8) from $9.49   
Sending request ...

Overview

For the Time Being is a pivotal book in the career of one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century. W. H. Auden had recently moved to America, fallen in love with a young man to whom he considered himself married, rethought his entire poetic and intellectual equipment, and reclaimed the Christian faith of his childhood. Then, in short order, his relationship fell apart and his mother, to whom he was very close, died. In the midst of this period of personal crisis and intellectual remaking, he decided to write a poem about Christmas and to have it set to music by his friend Benjamin Britten. Applying for a Guggenheim grant, Auden explained that he understood the difficulty of writing something vivid and distinctive about that most clichéd of subjects, but welcomed the challenge. In the end, the poem proved too long and complex to be set by Britten, but in it we have a remarkably ambitious and poetically rich attempt to see Christmas in double focus: as a moment in the history of the Roman Empire and of Judaism, and as an ever-new and always contemporary event for the believer. For the Time Being is Auden's only explicitly religious long poem, a technical tour de force, and a revelatory window into the poet's personal and intellectual development. This edition provides the most accurate text of the poem, a detailed introduction by Alan Jacobs that explains its themes and sets the poem in its proper contexts, and thorough annotations of its references and allusions.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

New York Times
Beautiful.
— Mark Schorer
New Yorker
[Auden's] four long poems . . . remain the astounding heart of his work. . . . In For the Time Being, the most successful of these poems, [the characters] are at once participants in the Nativity story and drunken New Yorkers.
— Adam Gopnik
Time and Tide
'The Christmas Oratorio' contains very fine passages, is amusing as well as being serious, and . . . has the power in some of the choruses, of bringing to mind the mighty chorales of Bach.
— Stephen Spender
New Republic
The oratorio . . . carries [its theme] through a series of resourceful modulations to a music-hall finale, setting the Flight into Egypt—'the Land of Unlikeness'—against a real-estate development of the Waste Land. The perplexities and strivings of the intellectual, the man with the mirror, are profoundly grasped and impressively orchestrated. . . . Auden, like most intelligent believers, affirms a positive faith by a kind of double negation, a denial of doubt, a questioning of skepticism. He is more adept at burying Caesar than at praising Christ, more anxious for a Messiah than confident in the Revelation.
— Harry Levin
New York Times - Mark Schorer
Beautiful.
New Yorker - Adam Gopnik
[Auden's] four long poems . . . remain the astounding heart of his work. . . . In For the Time Being, the most successful of these poems, [the characters] are at once participants in the Nativity story and drunken New Yorkers.
New Republic - Harry Levin
The oratorio . . . carries [its theme] through a series of resourceful modulations to a music-hall finale, setting the Flight into Egypt—'the Land of Unlikeness'—against a real-estate development of the Waste Land. The perplexities and strivings of the intellectual, the man with the mirror, are profoundly grasped and impressively orchestrated. . . . Auden, like most intelligent believers, affirms a positive faith by a kind of double negation, a denial of doubt, a questioning of skepticism. He is more adept at burying Caesar than at praising Christ, more anxious for a Messiah than confident in the Revelation.
Time and Tide - Stephen Spender
'The Christmas Oratorio' contains very fine passages, is amusing as well as being serious, and . . . has the power in some of the choruses, of bringing to mind the mighty chorales of Bach.
From the Publisher
"[Auden's] four long poems . . . remain the astounding heart of his work. . . . In For the Time Being, the most successful of these poems, [the characters] are at once participants in the Nativity story and drunken New Yorkers."—Adam Gopnik, New Yorker

"Beautiful."—Mark Schorer, New York Times

"For the Time Being is efficiently annotated and interestingly introduced."—Lachlan MacKinnon, Times Literary Supplement

The oratorio . . . carries [its theme] through a series of resourceful modulations to a music-hall finale, setting the Flight into Egypt—'the Land of Unlikeness'—against a real-estate development of the Waste Land. The perplexities and strivings of the intellectual, the man with the mirror, are profoundly grasped and impressively orchestrated. . . . Auden, like most intelligent believers, affirms a positive faith by a kind of double negation, a denial of doubt, a questioning of skepticism. He is more adept at burying Caesar than at praising Christ, more anxious for a Messiah than confident in the Revelation."—Harry Levin, New Republic

"'The Christmas Oratorio' contains very fine passages, is amusing as well as being serious, and . . . has the power in some of the choruses, of bringing to mind the mighty chorales of Bach."—Stephen Spender, Time and Tide

"[A] long-awaited, happy-making edition. . . . I am incapable of reading the last pages of For the Time Being without tears. . . . The trip will be surreal, as For the Time Being often is, but it will end as For the Time Being ends, with 'joy.'"—John Timpane, Philadelphia Inquirer

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691158273
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 5/26/2013
  • Series: W.H. Auden: Critical Editions
  • Pages: 142
  • Sales rank: 243,458
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Alan Jacobs is the Clyde S. Kilby Professor of English at Wheaton College in Illinois. He previously edited Auden's "The Age of Anxiety" for this series, and is the author of several books, including most recently "The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction".

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Preface vii
Introduction xi
For the Time Being 1
Textual Notes 67

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(0)

4 Star

(0)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)