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Forewords and Afterwords Paperback – 1 May 1997

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Product details

  • Paperback: 529 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Books; 1st Vintage International Ed edition (1 May 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679724850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679724858
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.8 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 166,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
In the first half of the book, Auden has written a brilliant set of essays on Christian doctrine, thought and mysticism. The essays on Protestant Mysticism and Kierkegaard are worth the price of the entire volume. Those whose tastes run more to the literary will enjoy the bulk of the work.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 7 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
"A Civilised Voice" 9 Mar. 2001
By "wizardry3" - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Just as W.H. Auden's verse of the 1930s came to define a specific poetic epoch (that of Spender, MacNeice, Day Lewis - the so-called "Auden generation"), so his body of essays and reviews has assumed an important place among the canon of literary criticism. Still, when we want a concise account of that troubling term "modernism" it is to Auden's "The Dyer's Hand" that we turn; his essays on Shakespeare remain among the best ever composed. The writings collected as "Forewords and Afterwords" serve to reinforce this status. Here Auden's great love of the written word (and of opera, too) is beautifully evinced. While a reasonable proportion of the essays deal with the Germans (Auden, after all, chose to live his final years in Austria), it is when he turns south, beyond the alps, that he is perhaps most interesting. I think it was Clive James who noted Auden's almost Bloomian fascination with Dante, and it is in "The Greeks and Us" (the opening essay of this volume) that we see this preoccupation with the Mediterranean emerge. Here Auden charts a wonderment with the Greeks which begins, as a boy, with the tales of Homer, flowers when one reads the tragedians, and is so inseparable from us that even today "everyone is born either a Platonist or an Aristotelian" (5). This essay - in its erudition, enthusiasm, in its thematic demands - then lays a groundwork from which all his other examinations grow. What is his essay on Kierkegaard but an affirmation of that need to "become fully conscious" (32) which he attributes to the Greeks? Even Wagner, "the greatest of the monsters", comes to embody someone "for better or worse, fully human" (32) when thought of in the terms he constructs in his first essay. Auden himself exemplifies that "civilsed voice" - refreshing, complete, humane, and which he associates with Pope - as he lays parts of the western literary tradition bare in "Forewords and Afterwords". Here his initial essay is a seed from which the others appear to grow, each representing a shoot - at once a departure but each feeding from the same root - on the same tree of human understanding.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A Learned and Thoughtful Collection by a Master 27 Oct. 2000
By mholesh - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
W.H. Auden was, of course, one of the 20th Century's greatest poets. This collection of essays, forewards and reviews illuminates his carefully thought out positions on poetry, literature, art, artists and religion. The book covers a period of over thirty years and the organization of the book is not chronological. Though this obscures the development of Auden's thoughts over time, it does serve as a useful almost biographical device. Beginning with the most esoteric discussions of Christian mysticism, the editor proceeds to go deeper and deeper into Auden himself, until he ends with a semi-autobiograhical account. Read in conjunction with the poetry, one feels sometimes that the poems do illustrate the philosophy more clearly than the prose, but notwithstanding, these essays are well worth reading. The essays on Goethe and Wagner are arresting insights about the relationship between the artist and his life that might startle those used to the conventional view of art derives from life. The format leads inevitably to repetition but the repetition is welcome as the concepts are often difficult and benefit from being brought forth in different contexts.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful review of spirituality 26 Mar. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
In the first half of the book, Auden has written a brilliant set of essays on Christian doctrine, thought and mysticism. The essays on Protestant Mysticism and Kierkegaard are worth the price of the entire volume. Those whose tastes run more to the literary will enjoy the bulk of the work.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A Visit with an old friend with a snifter of brandy by the fireside 30 Dec. 2013
By Willie - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I first read this compendium some 25 years ago, and, like the brandy suggested these essays just get warmer and better with time. Auden is a generalist whose command of the language and range of interest in great thoughts and great writers makes one want to pursue the works of the authors in the original and in its entirety. Though not yet available for Kindle there is hope that it will be issued in that format.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A decent purchase 22 Aug. 2013
By Bill - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Auden is known as a poet for good reason - he was more prolific in poetry, and he was better. That being said, he was an excellent essayist, but do not expect the same calibre as that of his poetry. This specific copy I received was quite old, and the dust cover was quite tattered. The readability was not affected.
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