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Complete Works of W H Auden Prose, Volume III 1949-1955

by Edward Mendelson Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 824 pages
AU$176.00 NZ$181.74
Product Status: Not Our Publication - we no longer distribute
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This volume contains all of W. H. Auden's prose works from 1949 through 1955, including many little-known essays that exemplify his range, wit, depth, and wisdom. The book includes the complete text of Auden's first separately published prose book, The Enchafèd Flood, or, The Romantic Iconography of the Sea, followed by more than one hundred separate essays, reviews, introductions, and lectures, as well as a questionnaire (complete with his own answers) about the reader's fantasy version of Eden. Two reviews that Auden wrote for the New Yorker, but which the magazine never printed, appear here for the first time, and a series of aphorisms previously published only in a French translation are printed in English. Among the previously unpublished lectures is a long account of the composition of his poem 'Prime,' complete with his comments on early rejected drafts. The variety of style and subject in this book is almost inexhaustible. Auden writes about the imaginary mirrors that everyone carries through life; French existentialism and New Yorker cartoons; Freud, Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Camus; Keats, Cervantes, Melville, Colette, Byron, Virgil, Yeats, Tolkien, and Virginia Woolf; opera, ballet, cinema, prosody, and music; English and American poetry and society; and politics and religion. The introduction by Edward Mendelson places the essays in biographical and historical context, and the extensive textual notes explain obscure contemporary references and provide an often-amusing history of Auden's work as an editor of anthologies and a series of books by younger poets.

Preface ix
Acknowledgements xi
Introduction xiii
The Text of This Edition xxxv

The Enchafèd Flood 1


A Note on Graham Greene 95
In Memoriam [Theodore Spencer] 96
Port and Nuts with the Eliots 97
The Question of the Pound Award 101
Introductions to Poets of the English Language 103
Sixty-Six Sestets 154
Notebooks of Somerset Maugham 156
Firbank Revisited 159
Nature, History and Poetry [1949] 161
Then and Now: 1935-1950 164
Jean Cocteau 168
Religion and the Intellectuals: A Symposium 170
Introduction to Red Ribbon on a White Horse, by Anzia Yezierska 177
A Playboy of the Western World: St Oscar, the Homintern Martyr 184
Of Poetry in Troubled Greece 188
A Guidebook for All Good Counter-Revolutionaries 190
The Score and Scale of Berlioz 193
The Things Which Are Caesar's 196
A That There Sort of Writer 210
Introduction to Selected Prose and Poetry of Edgar Allan Poe 215
Foreword to A Change of World, by Adrienne Cecile Rich 224
Nature, History and Poetry [1950] 226
Young Boswell 233
Some December Books Chosen for the Trade Book Clinic 237
In an Age Like Ours, the Artist Works in a State of Siege 240
Aeneid for Our Time 242
Address to the Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom 246
Some Reflections on Opera as a Medium 250
The Philosophy of a Lunatic 255
Eliot on Eliot 257
Foreword to A Mask for Janus, by W. S. Merwin 259
Keats in His Letters 262
A Review of Short Novels of Colette 267
The World That Books Have Made 270
Portrait of a Whig 273
Introduction to The Living Thoughts of Kierkegaard 285
Some Reflections on Music and Opera 296
The Adult Voice of America 302
While the Oboes Came Up, the Bagpipes Went Down 305
Notes on the Comic 307
Our Italy 319
[Hic et Ille] 323
Keeping the Oriflamme Burning 335
Sigmund Freud 340
Foreword to Various Jangling Keys, by Edgar Bogardus 344
Foreword to The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole, by Frederick Rolfe, Baron Corvo 347
The Rake's Progress 351
T. S. Eliot So Far 352
Two Sides to a Thorny Problem 356
Cav & Pag 358
Through the Collar-Bone of a Hare 364
Transplanted Englishman Views U.S. 369
Verga's Place 374
Zahl und Gesicht 377
Huck and Oliver 378
Selected Essays of T. S. Eliot 382
The Greatness of Freud 385
Translation and Tradition 388
Speaking of Books 391
Ballet's Present Eden 393
Foreword to An Armada of Thirty Whales, by Daniel G. Hoffman 396
Words and Music 399
A Message from W. H. Auden [on Dylan Thomas] 407
A Contemporary Epic 407
The Man Who Wrote Alice 413
Handbook to Antiquity 416
A Consciousness of Reality 419
The Word and the Machine 425
A European View of Peace 427
England: Six Unexpected Days 431
Introduction to An Elizabethan Song Book, by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman 435
Balaam and the Ass 444
The Freud-Fliess Letters 472
Introduction to The Visionary Novels of George Macdonald 477
How Cruel Is April? 481
Holding the Mirror Up to History 483
The Hero Is a Hobbit 489
A World Imaginary, but Real 491
The Private Diaries of Stendhal (1801-1814) 494
Fog in the Mediterranean 498
The Pool of Narcissus 502
Introduction to The Faber Book of Modern American Verse 506
"I Am of Ireland" 514
[A Tribute to Paul Claudel] 521
Authority in America 521
Am I That I Am? 527
Man before Myth 532
The Dyer's Hand 536
Qui é l'uom' felice 569
Speaking of Books 571
[Contribution to Modern Canterbury Pilgrims] 573
Foreword to Some Trees, by John Ashbery 580
Bile and Brotherhood 584
L'Homme d'Esprit 590
The History of an Historian 596
A Self-Policing People 602
Reflections on The Magic Flute 604
Putting It in English 609

E. M. Forster 613
A Lecture in a College Course 614
An Endorsement 614

I Record Sleeves and Program Notes 617
II Auden as Anthologist and Editor 622
III Public Lectures and Courses 636
IV Endorsements and Citations 674
V Auden on the Air 675
VI Public Letters Signed by Auden and Others 694
VII Lost and Unwritten Work 698

The Enchafèd Flood 703
Essays and Reviews, 1949-1955 708

Index of Titles and Books Reviewed 777

Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . Most of the articles will delight any reader with their wit. charm, and elegance. Charles Rosen The New York Review of Books versatility and spikily independent literary intelligence are frequently on display in Prose, Volume Three: 1949-1955, the most recent volume in the magnificent Complete Works. Stefan Collini Times Literary Supplement This latest installment of Edward Mendelson's edition of the Complete Works contains Auden's prose writings from a mere six years, roughly the poet's forties. It was preceded by two large volumes covering 1926 to 1938 and 1939 to 1948. The three total more than two thousand pages and there will have to be at least one more volume, covering the period between 1955 and Auden's death in 1973. When you add in the volumes already devoted to plays, libretti, poems, it becomes hard to avoid describing the whole enterprise as heroic. In fact it could also be described as unique, for no other 20th-century English poet has been so fully and patiently honoured. Frank Kermode London Review of Books This third volume of his complete prose is the best yet...Here is the ambitious set of lectures published as The Enchaf and egrave;d Flood, about the Romantic hero and the sea, in Melville, Baudelaire and (taken with entire seriousness) Edward Lear. Here are the influential reviews of Tolkien and the introductions to first books by Adrienne Rich and John Ashbery.... No major writer's complete works are more fun to read. Publishers Weekly Few great and greatly prolific poets wrote as much irresistible and glorious prose as W.H. Auden but he was, by any assay, one of the greatest essayists and critics of the 20th century. And here we have Auden in his 40s, one of the greatest eras of Auden prose, the era of The Enchaf and eacute;d Flood, and so many of the essays collected in The Dyer's Hand. Jeff Simon Buffalo News With the fifth volume of his 'Complete Works' and the third of his prose out--with a fourth, and final volume promised--we can glimpse almost the full range of interests and his remarkable versatility...When Auden felt affinity with a subject, his prose could dazzle. His essay here on Oscar Wilde, 'A Playboy of the Western World: St. Oscar, the Hominterm Martyr,' is at once poignant and astute, as is his fine introduction to a selection of Edgar Allan Poe's writings. But the best essay may be 'Portrait of a Whig,' Auden's searching and affectionate study of the inimitable Sydney Smith (1771?1845). Eric Ormsby New York Sun In part the appeal of this volume derives from its author's aphoristic cast of mind, but more significant is the self-evident fact Auden was a poet first and a critic second: for all his love of lists and categories, his thought is always round, never linear. He is able to see, as only a poet can, that rules don't always apply, that they can sometimes be broken. Oliver Dennis The Australian Praise for previous volumes: 'To have found and contextualized the material collected in this second volume of Auden's prose is a magnificent achievement, and Edward Mendelson's immaculately handled edition will be a scholarly resource of a permanent kind. Peter MacDonald Times Literary Supplement Praise for previous volumes: 'This essential volume in a projected complete edition restores the voracious reader and never pedantic critic to the master poet. Publisher's Weekly Praise for previous volumes: 'The Complete Works, edited with elegant scruple by Auden's literary executor Edward Mendelson is . . . the only way to get at Auden as he happened, year by year, bit by bit, and not as he, or his later biographers, want us to think of him. Tom D'Evelyn Boston Book Review Praise for previous volumes: 'The collection, which can be dipped into as well as read as a whole, is a feast of language and insight. Arthur Kirsch Washington Post Book World This scholarly collection, with its seventy pages of notes on variant readings, revives many interesting pieces as well as numerous others of interest mainly to academics. Larry Koenigsberg Magill Book Reviews
Edward Mendelson is the literary executor of the Estate of W. H. Auden and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His books include ''Early Auden, Later Auden'', and ''The Things That Matter''.