W. H. Auden (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
The period of the 1920’s, 1930’s, and 1940’s is now beginning to be seen as extremely significant for the shaping of Western culture in the postwar era. Certain moments and places in those years have come to stand for decisive changes in human consciousness. The sexual openness of Weimar Berlin in the 1920’s, the political conflict of the Spanish Civil War of the 1930’s in the context of economic crisis, and the shifting of political relationships in the conduct of World War II have all had their profound impact on the contemporary world. W. H. Auden, who participated in all these events, has for that reason, along with his ability to respond imaginatively to his experience of these events, become, after T. S. Eliot, the major poet of the twentieth century. A frequent visitor to Germany in the 1920’s, an observer of the Spanish fighting, and an immigrant to America just before the outbreak of World War II, Auden was able to chronicle his age, and give it its appropriate name—the Age of Anxiety.
It is therefore especially important for an understanding of Auden to have a work such as Humphrey Carpenter’s biography, a work that locates the writing of his poetry and other works in the context of Auden’s life. Carpenter, soundly, does not try to offer detailed explications of the writing; instead, he allows generous quotation from the work to illuminate Auden’s response to the events he observed or in which he participated. As a result,...
(The entire section is 1073 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1982)
Christian Science Monitor. LXXIII, November 9, 1981, p. B9.
Commonweal. CVIII, November 6, 1981, p. 633.
Library Journal. CVI, September 15, 1981, p. 1735.
New Statesman. CII, July 3, 1981, p. 20.
The New York Review of Books. XXVIII, December 17, 1981, p. 53.
The New York Times Book Review. LXXXVI, October 4, 1981, p. 1.
Newsweek. XCVIII, September 28, 1981, p. 92.
Saturday Review. VIII, September, 1981, p. 54.
Spectator. CCXLVII, July 4, 1981, p. 19.
Times Literary Supplement. July 3, 1981, p. 745.
(The entire section is 57 words.)