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Autumn Journal [Paperback]

Louis MacNeice
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
RRP: £9.99
Price: £7.95 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Book Description

17 Jan 2013
Written between August and December 1938, Autumn Journal is still considered one of the most valuable and moving testaments of living through the thirties by a young writer. It is a record of the author's emotional and intellectual experience during those months, the trivia of everyday living set against the events of the world outside, the settlement in Munich and slow defeat in Spain.

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Autumn Journal + Louis MacNeice Selected Poems
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Product details

  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (17 Jan 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571234380
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571234387
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,222 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'He completely seizes the atmosphere of the year of Munich. He tolls the knell of the political thirties with melancholy triumph.' Cyril Connolly"

Book Description

An essential collection of poems from one of Ireland's most treasured poets.


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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
71 of 72 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
MacNeice's Autumn Journal records the author's experiences and emotional reactions to events from August 1938 up until the New Year. It therefore includes such tumultuous events as the Munich crisis and the period immediately prior to Barcelona's fall to Franco, which MacNeice witnessed at first hand. As a journal, it has the feel of a personal letter rather than a polished didactic poem, which MacNeice explains in the preface, as being essential to preserve the 'honesty' of his immediate reaction to events, unqualified by hindsight. As the last major piece of poetry to be produced before the start of the Second World War it is in many ways the last word on the decade. Its contemplative, at times sentimental, approach fit the tone at the end of the thirties as artists looked back over the failures of a decade and an ideology, that had ultimately led to war.
The great achievement of MacNeice in Autumn Journal is the way in which he blends public events with his own personal emotions and experiences. It explores the way in which political and social developments inform ones private existence, and how ones personal beliefs influence the way in which one reacts to and interprets those public events. For example, a beautiful use of language contrasts the way politician's reputations and stocks "go up" with the literal way the Czechs "go down", with Chamberlain's agreement with Hitler. However, MacNeice refuses to moralise, and he records his honest initial reaction, which was to "Save my skin and damn my conscience", in the relief that a war had been averted.
Autumn Journal successfully incorporates a strongly autobiographical flavour, with poems about MacNeice's Irish heritage and his classical education's relevance in the modern world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply marvellous! 4 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is the most evocative expression of a unique time in our history - a time never repeated, and as the world began to change forever. MacNiece captures his feelings, his impressions, his anxiety of the upheaval to come, so clearly and beautifully that you can see the pictures, hear the sounds, live the time as you read.

From the first page, the reader is wrapped in his world, to the very end of this special work.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great discovery 20 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback
In a series of poems the author brings alive the anxiety of the months before WW11 in London, specifically Primrose Hill, when war was becoming inevitable.
There are memorable scenes from Spain and an English boarding school where he had been a teacher. A lovely book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars academic 2 April 2011
Format:Paperback
One of those poems that captures the age, both of the time and of the poet. It's a long poem, but can stand lots of rereading
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable testimony, from a remarkable year 28 April 2011
By Jeremy Bevan TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
For many of those of us who weren't there, the eve of World War II, and particularly 1938, the year of Chamberlain's `triumphant' return from Munich, holds a certain awful fascination. What was it like to live with the sense of helplessness as the world slid, `peace in our time' notwithstanding, towards war ? How did people go about their everyday lives ? One who was there was Louis MacNeice, and in this marvellous poem in twenty-four parts, halfway between lyrical and didactic poetry, he captures a very personal sense of the autumn of that year.

Amidst the resumption of teaching routines at Birmingham University (where MacNeice taught classics), love and its waning as he loves and falls out of love with Nancy Coldstream (`When we are out of love, how were we ever in it ?' (64)), and the continuing Spanish Civil War, one theme is pervasive: unease and uncertainty about the looming conflict. `All we can do at most/Is press an anxious ear against the keyhole/To hear the Future breathing' (60) sums up the sometimes contradictory emotions and the thoughts of a world in which `posters flapping on the railings tell the fluttered/World that Hitler speaks, that Hitler speaks' (14). I love the way the remorseless rhythm of that second line gives the sense of feet in lockstep, a hint of the coming conflict with the `legions' (a recurring image), the `beast'.

It must have been hard to believe that there was any hope, and there is certainly a fatalist tone to some sections of the Journal. And it's certainly not naïve about what is coming.
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