The Poetry of W. H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island

The Poetry of W. H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island

The Poetry of W. H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island

The Poetry of W. H. Auden: The Disenchanted Island

Excerpt

This book is written out of the conviction that Auden's poetry can offer the reader entertainment, instruction, intellectual excitement, and a prodigal variety of aesthetic pleasures, all in a generous abundance that is unique in our time. Its basic aim is to set the facts in order, clear away the obstacles to understanding, and provide the background and context required for a full appreciation of the poetry.

Auden, while vivid in personality, is diffident toward the public, and over the years a considerable body of misinformation about him has accumulated. For example, in his Auden: An Introductory Essay (London, 1951) Richard Hoggart stated that in 1950 Auden was appointed Assistant Professor of English at Ann Arbor University, Michigan. This mythical appointment is the only part of Auden's American academic history that seems to have found its way across the Atlantic; it has been solemnly recorded in British--and some American--reference works ever since. The fact is that Auden has had no connection with Michigan since 1942. On the other hand, the impression was widespread in this country that Auden was moving back to England when he accepted the Oxford Professorship of Poetry in 1956. Other persistent bits of misinformation are that Auden drove an ambulance for the Spanish Loyalists in 1937 and that his For the Time Being was set to music by Benjamin Britten. In view of the prevalence of such errors, I have taken some pains (and put Mr. Auden to some trouble) to try to make sure that I have the facts straight.

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