W. H. Auden: A Commentary

Overview

"Fuller's book is a deeply impressive and valuable achievement that has no real equal in the critical literature on any modern poet. It explains thousands of allusions in all of Auden's plays and poems—and covers virtually all of Auden's published work, not only the poems that he collected. But it is not simply the work of a source-hunter. It is the work of a scholar and successful poet, who can write illuminatingly about verse form and poetic tone as well as about sources and influences. In almost every case, Fuller makes the poems he writes

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Overview

"Fuller's book is a deeply impressive and valuable achievement that has no real equal in the critical literature on any modern poet. It explains thousands of allusions in all of Auden's plays and poems—and covers virtually all of Auden's published work, not only the poems that he collected. But it is not simply the work of a source-hunter. It is the work of a scholar and successful poet, who can write illuminatingly about verse form and poetic tone as well as about sources and influences. In almost every case, Fuller makes the poems he writes about more enjoyable to read, not merely more comprehensible. It is an astonishingly full guide to reading and research that will remain the main reference work on Auden for many decades."—Edward Mendelson, Editor of The Complete Works of W. H. Auden (Princeton)

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Editorial Reviews

The New Republic - Frank Kermode
Nobody who wants a richer understanding of this great but often willful poet can dispense with Fuller's assistance.
Boston Book Review - Tom D'Evelyn
The entries—this is a work of reference—are marvels of wit, tact, learning, and connoisseurship. Some articles seem definitive. . . . Fuller's commentary bears a family resemblance to scientific, lyrical compendia such as Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The odd detail dances in amber sunbeams, translucent, and symbolic.
The New Criterion - Roger Kimball
W. H. Auden: A Commentary is a meticulous labor of love and scholarship.
The World and I - Joseph Sullivan
Auden's criticism is exceptional in its depth and breadth. He thoughtfully comments on almost all the plays as well as the sonnets. . . . Readers will admire Kirsch's Auden. It is quite possible that they will like him, too.
From the Publisher
"Nobody who wants a richer understanding of this great but often willful poet can dispense with Fuller's assistance."—Frank Kermode, The New Republic

"The entries—this is a work of reference—are marvels of wit, tact, learning, and connoisseurship. Some articles seem definitive. . . . Fuller's commentary bears a family resemblance to scientific, lyrical compendia such as Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The odd detail dances in amber sunbeams, translucent, and symbolic."—Tom D'Evelyn, Boston Book Review

"W. H. Auden: A Commentary is a meticulous labor of love and scholarship."—Roger Kimball, The New Criterion

"Auden's criticism is exceptional in its depth and breadth. He thoughtfully comments on almost all the plays as well as the sonnets. . . . Readers will admire Kirsch's Auden. It is quite possible that they will like him, too."—Joseph Sullivan, The World and I

Boston Book Review
The entries—this is a work of reference—are marvels of wit, tact, learning, and connoisseurship. Some articles seem definitive. . . . Fuller's commentary bears a family resemblance to scientific, lyrical compendia such as Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy. The odd detail dances in amber sunbeams, translucent, and symbolic.
— Tom D'Evelyn
The New Republic
Nobody who wants a richer understanding of this great but often willful poet can dispense with Fuller's assistance.
— Frank Kermode
The New Criterion
W. H. Auden: A Commentary is a meticulous labor of love and scholarship.
— Roger Kimball
The World and I
Auden's criticism is exceptional in its depth and breadth. He thoughtfully comments on almost all the plays as well as the sonnets. . . . Readers will admire Kirsch's Auden. It is quite possible that they will like him, too.
— Joseph Sullivan
The New Criterion
W. H. Auden: A Commentary is a meticulous labor of love and scholarship.
— Roger Kimball
D.A. Barton
Fuller's Commentary on the poems of W.H. Auden has been a standard reference guide since its original publication more than 25 years ago. Weighing in at nearly twice the size of the original, this exceptionally competent revision details publishing history, explains private as well as public allusions, and drops the previous edition's coy expurgations vis-a-vis Auden's homosexuality.
Choice Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This mammoth, accessible study ties the life of major English poet W.H. Auden to his ideas, and both to his poetry. Mendelson--a Columbia University professor who is also Auden's literary executor--picks up where his Early Auden left off, in 1939, when Auden emigrated to the United States. He sees in Auden two kinds of poetry, which he calls "myth" and "parable." The first stresses the impersonal and the aesthetic; the second, the voluntary and the ethical. Auden's best poems represent or acknowlege both; his weaker work adheres to one or the other. This intriguing interpretive scheme gets necessarily submerged as Mendelson tracks Auden's voluminous output, his life and his rapidly-shifting ideas. Throughout his writing life Auden's deepest beliefs changed frequently, sometimes faster than he could finish the poems he meant to embody them. (Some beliefs were strange indeed: in 1940 Auden thought that he had been granted true love--in the form of longtime companion Chester Kallman--as a reward for his childhood attachment to lead-mining machinery.) Most usefully, Mendelson has read what Auden read, finding in now-neglected thinkers (Charles Williams, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy, R.G. Collingwood, F.J.E. Raby and Owen Barfield) the seeds of this omnivorous and idiosyncratic poet's changes. Auden's successive reversals and self-repudiations can be dizzying; Mendelson's clear prose and copious citations do their best to help readers hang on. His focus on Auden's long poems and his defense of Auden's very late "domestic" poems will send many readers back to them. And the poet's own amply quoted manuscripts will give most readers one more source of pleasure: "You're so good," he tells one intimate, "and I'm a neurotic middle-aged butterball." (Apr.) FYI: John Fuller's W.H. Auden: A Commentary, published last year, is an exhaustive reader's companion to Auden's work. (Princeton Univ. $35 640p ISBN 0-691-00419-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691070490
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 9/5/2000
  • Pages: 640
  • Product dimensions: 6.13 (w) x 9.29 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgements
Abbreviations
Poems (1928) 3
Paid on Both Sides 18
Uncollected Poems 1925-30 36
Poems (1930) 52
Poems (1933) 78
The Orators 85
The Dance of Death 123
The Dog Beneath the Skin 126
Look, Stranger! 145
Uncollected Poems 1930-36 178
The Ascent of F6 193
Letters from Iceland 202
Alfred 225
Hadrian's Wall 227
Journey to a War 230
On the Frontier 245
Another Time 249
Uncollected Poems 1937-39 296
The Dark Valley 305
Paul Bunyan 308
The Double Man 319
For the Time Being 345
The Sea and the Mirror 356
The Age of Anxiety 369
Poems first published in the Collected Poetry (1945) 388
Nones 405
Uncollected Poems 1940-48 431
The Rake's Progress 436
Delia 440
The Shield of Achilles 443
Homage to Clio 463
Elegy for Young Lovers 481
About the House 484
The Bassarids 504
City Without Walls 508
Academic Graffiti 527
Epistle to a Godson 529
Thank You, Fog 544
Uncollected Poems 1949-73 554
Index of Titles and First Lines 558
General Index 575
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