If 'Poems' had created interest and enthusiasm, 'The Orators' generated still fiercer excitement and perplexity. The American poet John Berryman's testimony that 'When I flew through “The Orators” first/I felt outstretched…' ('Shirley & Auden', in 'Love & Fame', London: Faber & Faber, 1971) is typical of an extremely wide response.
Born in South Africa, William Plomer (1903-73) published 'Turbott Wolfe', his pioneer novel on Black Africa, at the age of 22. In his capacity as publisher's reader, he introduced the work of Ian Fleming to the firm of Jonathan Cape, and he later discovered and edited the Kilvert Diaries (3 vols, 1938-40). In addition to his many other books—novels, short stories, autobiographies, and verse including 'Collected Poems' (1960) and 'Taste and Remember' (1966)—he also wrote several libretti for Benjamin Britten, including 'Curlew River', 'The Burning Fiery Furnace', and 'The Prodigal Son'.
This extract is taken from A Poet on English Stateness.
Mr. W. H. Auden may or may not be a great writer; he is certainly an original one. Those who like to keep in touch with the newest developments of English literature have known his name for some time. He is the author of a remark-