W.H. Auden (edited by Edward Mendelson): The Complete Works of W.H. Auden

Auden and the moral importance of poetry

Simon West


The Complete Works of W.H. Auden, Prose, Vol. IV 1956–1962
by W.H. Auden (edited by Edward Mendelson)
Princeton University Press (Footprint), $98 hb, 1056 pp, 9780691147550


In 1956, when this fourth volume of his collected prose begins, W.H. Auden (1907–73) was forty-nine and widely recognised as one of the most important English-language poets. He had been in the United States for seventeen years, having left, or, as some back home had seen it, abandoned England shortly before the outbreak of World War II; and he had been an American citizen since 1946. To me, he always remained an English poet, and the lexical flourishes such as ‘dives’ and ‘congress’ found in the second half of his oeuvre do little to hide a European sensibility.

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Published in September 2011 no. 334
Simon West

Simon West

Simon West is a poet, translator, and Italianist. His first collection of poetry First Names was short-listed for the NSW Premier’s Prize in 2007, won the William Baylebridge Memorial Prize, and was commended in the 2007 FAW Anne Elder Award. The Selected Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti: A Critical English Edition, was published by Troubador Publishing, UK in 2009. Simon completed his PhD at the University of Melbourne where it was awarded the Chancellor’s Prize in 2004.

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