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Auden Hardcover – 16 Oct 1995

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 406 pages
  • Publisher: William Heinemann Ltd; First Edition edition (16 Oct. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0434175072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0434175079
  • Product Dimensions: 27.7 x 20.3 x 3.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 863,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


An intelligent and enlightening book which-makes you eager to re-read the work of a superbly skilled and moving poet -- Mail on Sunday

Literary biography at its best -- Sunday Telegraph --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

'A refreshing and convincing all-round portrait of the greatest English poet of this century, warts and all' Independent on Sunday --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. B. P. Van-asten on 19 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback
During the nineteen-thirties, the poet Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) became a spokesman for his generation; a voice for the young left-wing intellectuals and he published his first collection of `Poems' in 1930. The collection set the tone incorporating his radical and even political viewpoint, with themes suggesting that England was infested with spies and characteristically `buttoned-up' by repressed instincts. Even at Christ Church, Oxford, Auden set himself up as a significant leader of the modern poets which included his friend and collaborator Stephen Spender (1909-1995), Louis MacNeice (1907-1963) and Cecil Day Lewis (1904-1972).
Auden was typically curious about `other countries' and `other people'; he was very fond of Germany, travelling there with Christopher Isherwood (1904-1986) before the war. He also visited Iceland with Louis MacNeice in 1936 and even found his way to China. In 1937 he spent two months in Spain supporting the Republicans in the Spanish Civil War. Isherwood collaborated with Auden on plays with a left-wing slant and in 1939 they went to live in the United States. Many people felt a sense of betrayal at Auden's decision to leave when England's course was set on war with Germany. In the States he met and fell in love with Chester Kallman (1921-1975), who also became his assistant in writing the libretti for Stravinsky's `The Rake's Progress' in 1951.
After 1941 Auden's more complex, later works became increasingly Christian in their tone. He was a master of the verse form, using both the traditional metre and new experimental rhythms.
Davenport-Hines really gets behind the wrinkled exterior of Auden and taps into the psychology of the man, incorporating lots of illustrations in this well-written and fascinating biography!
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Excellent biography! 22 Mar. 2002
By Geoff Puterbaugh - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a very well-done life of W. H. Auden, a man who may well turn out to be the finest English poet of the twentieth century. It is a fascinating work, which traces Auden's literary and poetical development in tandem with all the events in his real life in this real world. The most important of them (for Auden) was his life-long love of Chester Kallman, which became quite complex over time -- Auden reported feelings of paternal solicitude, jealousy, and erotic rivalry -- all occurring at the same time! Unusually, for a major biography of a major poet, there are scenes from the poet's cottage at Fire Island, which help to situate Auden in a very real New York social world.
But none of this is what set Auden apart -- not his romances nor his politics. Unlike some other poets, Auden worked at his craft unceasingly, probably becoming a leading world expert on poetic meter.
And he worked at his art. Anyone who has ever practiced any sort of craft or art -- ballet, writing, whatever -- knows well just how hard it is to make things seem effortless. And so Auden could produce such "effortless" things as the opening to his "Lullaby" ---
Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
If that looks easy to you, just have a go yourself! :-)
In summary: a very good biography of a major poet. Highest recommendation!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Auden a biography by Richard Davenport-Hines, 1995 4 July 2008
By Douglas Jewett - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is splendid literature in it's own right. Davenport has gotten deeply into Auden's life and argues for it's unrelenting energy and pervasive sense of purpose. This might be missed in a life story which sometimes seems almost wearying in it's social and intellectual complexity. It is deeply and knowingly appreciative of Auden, bringing the poetry itself into loving focus, and sending the reader back to read it in a new, stronger light.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
very good 9 April 2013
By al - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The product arrived quickly and in excellent condition.
this biography is one of the few published until now Auden. It is complete and compelling.
Davenport-Hines presents an intimate portrait of Wystan Hugh Auden.
Davenport-Hines make this book an challenging and well-documented study of Auden's life.
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