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Early Auden, Later Auden: A Critical Biography

by Edward Mendelson Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 912 pages
AU$93.99 NZ$98.25
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Presented in one volume for the very first time, and updated with new archival discoveries, Early Auden, Later Auden reintroduces Edward Mendelson's acclaimed, two-part biography of W. H. Auden (1907-73), one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century. This book offers a detailed history and interpretation of Auden's oeuvre, spanning the duration of his career from juvenilia to his final works in poetry as well as theatre, film, radio, opera, essays, and lectures.

Early Auden, Later Auden begins with Auden's emigration from England to the United States. The book follows the evolution of his thought, offering a comparison of the poet's views at various junctures over a lifetime. With penetrating insight, Mendelson examines Auden's early ideas, methods, and personal transitions as reflected in poems, manuscripts and private papers. The book then links changes in Auden's intellectual, emotional and religious experience with his shifting public role--showing the depth of his personal struggles with self and with fame, and the means by which these internal conflicts were reflected in his art in later years.

Featuring a new preface by the author, Early Auden, Later Auden is an engaging and timeless work that demonstrates Auden's remarkable range and complexity, paying homage to his enduring legacy.




Preface to the One-Volume Edition ix
Early Auden
Introduction to Early Auden 3
Part One: The Border And The Group (August 1927–May 1933) I The Exiled Word 15
II The Watershed 36
III Family Ghosts 53
IV The Evolutionary Defile 69
V Trickster and Tribe 86
VI Private Places 115
VII Looking for Land 132
Part Two: The Two Worlds (June 1933–January 1939)
VIII Lucky This Point 151
IX The Great Divide 167
X The Insufficient Touch 196
XI Their Indifferent Redeemer 220
XII Parables of Action: 1 236
XIII Parables of Action: 2 257
XIV History to the Defeated 277
XV From This Island 297
Epilogue 325
Later Auden
Introduction to Later Auden 329
Part One: Vision And After (1939–1947)
I Demon or Gift 339
II The Vision Enters 363
III Against the Devourer 389
IV Investigating the Crime 418
V It without Image 448
VI Imaginary Saints 471
VII The Absconded Vision 495
VIII The Murderous Birth 522
IX Asking for Neighborhood 557
Part Two: The Flesh We Are (1948–1957)
X The Murmurs of the Body 589
XI Waiting for a City 615
XII The Great Quell 638
XIII Number or Face 664
XIV The Altering Storm 690
Part Three: Territorial (1958–1973)
XV Poet of the Encirclement 715
XVI The Air Changes 735
XVII This Time Final 755
XVIII The Concluding Carnival 783
His Secret Life 809
Notes and Index
Reference Notes 821
Index 877

"Could well change the map of modern poetry. . . A model of condensation, [it] proceeds through the huge, often neglected body of work with grace and wit."

-Tom D'Evelyn, Boston Book Review

"It’s a wealth of intelligence, knowledge and insight that Mendelson. . . brings to this study . . . . With his array of interpretative tools, he solves for the first time the notorious obscurities of Auden’s earliest work."--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

astonishing critical study. . . . An absorbing life of the poet’s mind. . . exciting and provocative."--Walter Clemons, Newsweek
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 Moral Agents, The Things That Matter, and Lives of the New York Intellectuals.