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The Complete Works of W.H. Auden
(Princeton University Press)

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NEW IN 2001-2:

The Complete Works of W. H. Auden:
Prose, Volume II, 1939-1948

W. H. Auden
Edited by Edward Mendelson
Cloth | May 2002 | $39.50 / 27.95; 568 pp. | 6 x 9

bookjacketW. H. Auden's first ten years in the United States were marked by rapid and extensive change in his life and thought. He became an American citizen, fell in love with Chester Kallman, and began to reflect on American culture and to explore the ideas of Reinhold Niebuhr and other Protestant theologians. This volume contains every piece of prose that Auden wrote during these years, including essays and reviews he published under pseudonyms. Most have never been reprinted in any form since their initial publication in such magazines and newspapers as the Nation, the New Republic, Common Sense, Vogue, and the New York Times.

Auden's prose during this period is frequently directly autobiographical even as he comments on literature, psychology, politics, and religion. The writings range from a dialogue about W. B. Yeats through a respectful parody of Gertrude Stein to Jamesian essays on Henry James. They also include lively and often profound responses to ancient and modern history as well as to contemporary issues in politics and religion. Other highlights include writings on opera and poetry as well as reports of Auden's lectures and the text of an unfinished autobiographical book, The Prolific and the Devourer. Throughout, Edward Mendelson's extensive and illuminating editor's notes explain all contemporary and private allusions.

By making available a large cache of important but previously difficult-to-obtain writings on key subjects, this volume will be of obvious appeal to Auden's legions of admirers. It will also be enjoyed by everyone interested in twentieth-century literature, religion, and culture.

The Complete Works of W.H. Auden:
Plays and Other Dramatic Writings, 1928 1938

W. H. Auden and C. Isherwood
Edited by E. Mendelson

Cloth | 1989 | $92.50 / 58.00, 720 pp.

In 1928 Stephen Spender hand-printed thirty copies of a small volume of poems by his friend W. H. Auden--the first published book by a man who was to become the dominant literary figure of his generation and one of the century's greatest poets. Sixty years later, Princeton University Press inaugurates an eight-volume edition of the complete works of Auden, which is intended to serve as the definitive text for all the works Auden published or intended to publish in the form in which he expected to see them printed: his plays and other drama, libretti, essays and reviews, and poems.

The Complete Works of W. H. Auden will provide a unique opportunity to solve the numerous textual problems connected with the severe revisions Auden made in his own works. The texts will be newly edited from Auden's manuscripts by Edward Mendelson, the literary executor of the Auden estate. As presented in this edition, they will be absolutely clean, with the notes appearing only at the ends of the volumes, along with variant readings from all published versions, as well as hitherto unpublished drafts or revisions. Also included will be introductions placing the works in the context of literary traditions and relating them to Auden's life and times.

As planned, the first volume of the series contains plays and other drama, and the second volume will include the libretti. The essays and reviews will appear in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth volumes, and the seventh and eighth volumes will contain the poems.

This volume contains Auden and Christopher Isherwood's dramatic extravaganzas The Dog Beneath the Skin, The Ascent of F 6, and On the Frontier. It also includes the two versions of Paid on Both Sides--which are so different as to constitute two works--and Auden's satiric revue The Dance of Death. Two plays appear in print for the first time, Auden and Isherwood's The Enemies of a Bishop and Auden's The Chase. Also included are Auden's prose and verse written for documentary films, a cabaret sketch, and an unpublished radio script. Many of the texts include poems by the young Auden that have never been published before. The extensive historical and textual notes trace the complex history of the production and revision of these plays, including full texts of rewritten scenes.

During the years when these works were created, Auden moved from a "poetry of isolation" to more expansive and public writing. After he left Oxford at age twenty-one, during the summer of 1928, he wrote the tragicomic charade Paid on Both Sides. During the next ten years, until he left England for America, he created the increasingly ambitious works for stage, film, and broadcast that appear in this volume. The most important of these plays were written in collaboration with Isherwood. As the world political situation worsened, Isherwood and Auden's style combined the energy of popular entertainment with the urgency of sacramental ritual.

 

The Complete Works of W.H. Auden:
Libretti and Other Dramatic Writings, 1939 1973

W. H. Auden and Charles Kallman

Cloth | 1993 | $92.50 / 58.00
823 pp. | 6 1/8 x 9 1/4

W. H. Auden called opera the "last refuge of the High Style," and considered it the one art in which the grand manner survived the ironic levelings of modernity. He began writing libretti soon after he arrived in America in 1939 and abandoned his earlier attempts to write public, political drama. Opera gave him the opportunity to rise to the high style in public, not in an attempt to elevate his own status as a poet, but in service of the heroic voice of the singers. These works present their mythical actions with a direct intensity unlike anything in even his greatest poems. In this volume of Auden and Chester Kallman's libretti, extensive historical and textual notes trace the history of the production and revision of the works and provide full texts of early scenarios, as well as abandoned and rewritten scenes.

Almost all the works included here were previously published in incomplete and often inaccessible editions--or were never published at all. The book prints for the first time the full text of Paul Bunyan, Auden's first libretto, which he wrote for music by Benjamin Britten. It also includes Auden and Kallman's The Rake's Progress, written for Igor Stravinsky, and Delia, written for Stravinsky but never set to music. The book continues with Auden and Kallman's two libretti written for music by Hans Werner Henze, Elegy for Young Lovers and The Bassarids, and their adaptation of Love's Labour's Lost, composed by Nicolas Nabokov. It also contains their translation of The Magic Flute, with its scenes reordered for greater dramatic coherence and added dialogue for sharper mythical significance, and their antimasque, The Entertainment of the Senses, for music by John Gardner.

The book contains two radio plays--The Dark Valley, a monologue written by Auden alone, and The Rocking Horse Winner, written with James Stern and based on a story by D. H. Lawrence. Also included are the unpublished masque that Auden wrote for Kallman's twenty-second birthday, the unpublished versions of The Dutchess of Malfi that Auden prepared with Bertolt Brecht, scenarios for a film script and a libretto that were never completed, Auden's narrative for the medieval Play of Daniel, two narratives for documentary films, and his song lyrics written for Man of La Mancha before the producer decided to use a different lyricist.


The Complete Works of W.H. Auden:
Prose and Travel Books in Prose and Verse: Volume I 1926 1938

W. H. Auden

Edited by Edward Mendelson

Cloth | 1996 | $92.50 / 58.00
952 pp. | 6 x 9 | 116 halftones 7 line drawings 2 maps 4 tables

This book contains all the essays and reviews that W. H. Auden wrote during the years when he was living in England, and also includes the full original versions of his two illustrated travel books, Letters from Iceland (written in collaboration with Louis MacNeice) and Journey to a War (written in collaboration with Christopher Isherwood). Auden's early prose ranges from extravagant indiscreet travel diaries through sharply observed critiques of writers from John Skelton to Winston Churchill. It includes studies of Communism and Christianity; audaciously wide-ranging essays on literature, psychology, and politics; and writings about gossip, sex, prisons, and schools.

The editor's notes include explanations of contemporary and private allusions. The long "Last Will and Testament" written in verse by Auden and MacNeice, which Evelyn Waugh described as a "gossip column," is annotated in full. The book will interest not only Auden's many admirers, but everyone concerned with twentieth-century literature and culture.

Juvenilia: Poems, 1922 1928
W. H. Auden

Edited by Katherine Bucknell

Cloth | 1994 | $45.00 / 28.50
280 pp. | 6 x 9

You know the terror that for poets lurks
  Beyond the ferry when to Minos brought.
Poets must utter their Collected Works,
  Including Juvenilia.. . .
--from "Letter to Lord Byron" (1936)

Regardless of how poets feel about their youthful attempts at verse, their early poems not only enrich our understanding of their artistic growth, but also reveal much about the nature of literary genius. No other twentieth-century poet has left behind such a wealth of early poetry as did W. H. Auden. By bringing together for the first time all the poems written by Auden between the ages of fifteen and twenty-one (1922 1928), this book allows us a rare, detailed look at the literary personality, development, and preoccupations of a major poet. Auden's readers will be fascinated to find in these poems the earliest evidence of his interest in psychoanalysis, his conflicted attitude toward his homosexuality, his self-conscious approach to poetry, and his life-long journey toward a religious sense of the world.

This collection includes over two hundred poems, most of them never published before, concluding with the contents of Auden's privately printed volume, Poems (1928). The poems are generously annotated with information on Auden's education, reading, literary concerns, and personal life. In her introduction, Katherine Bucknell traces important themes relating to the poet's entire career, and describes crucial but hitherto unknown aspects of his youth during his years at Gresham's School and at Christ Church, Oxford. Throughout this work we see in Auden an admirable instinct for experiment, a thorough testing of tradition, and a gathering mastery of technique and thematic argument.

Review:

"Containing more than two hundred poems, the book chronicles Auden's progress from his first verses, written when he was fifteen years old . . . As one of the most complete and scrupulous accounts of a major poet's apprenticeship, it offers what amounts to a series of master classes in the development of poetic tallentand the acquisition of rhetorical skill"--Poetry

Endorsement:

"Auden's early poems form a crucial chapter in the history of his imagination. By collecting and annotating these poems with an elegant scrupulosity, Katherine Bucknell has produced a very valuable addition to Auden studies and an indispensable book for the study of modern poetry."--J. D. McClatchy, Editor, The Yale Review

Lectures on Shakespeare
W. H. Auden

Edited by Arthur Kirsch

Cloth | January 2001 | $29.95 / 18.95
452 pp. | 6 x 9

"W. H. Auden, poet and critic, will conduct a course on Shakespeare at the New School for Social Research beginning Wednesday. Mr. Auden has announced that in his course . . . he proposes to read all Shakespeare's plays in chronological order." The New York Times reported this item on September 27, 1946, giving notice of a rare opportunity to hear one of the century's great poets comment on one of the greatest poets of all time. Published here for the first time, these lectures now make Auden's thoughts on Shakespeare available widely.

Painstakingly reconstructed by Arthur Kirsch from the notes of students who attended, primarily Alan Ansen, who became Auden's secretary and friend, the lectures afford remarkable insights into Shakespeare's plays as well as the sonnets.

A remarkable lecturer, Auden could inspire his listeners to great feats of recall and dictation. Consequently, the poet's unique voice, often down to the precise details of his phrasing, speaks clearly and eloquently throughout this volume. In these lectures, we hear Auden alluding to authors from Homer, Dante, and St. Augustine to Kierkegaard, Ibsen, and T. S. Eliot, drawing upon the full range of European literature and opera, and referring to the day's newspapers and magazines, movies and cartoons. The result is an extended instance of the "live conversation" that Auden believed criticism to be. Notably a conversation between Auden's capacious thought and the work of Shakespeare, these lectures are also a prelude to many ideas developed in Auden's later prose--a prose in which, one critic has remarked, "all the artists of the past are alive and talking among themselves."

Reflecting the twentieth-century poet's lifelong engagement with the crowning masterpieces of English literature, these lectures add immeasurably to both our understanding of Auden and our appreciation of Shakespeare.

Arthur Kirsch, Alice Griffin Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia, is the author of many books, including The Passions of Shakespeare's Tragic Heroes and Shakespeare and the Experience of Love, and the editor of several others.

Endorsements:

"What Auden has to say about Shakepeare's plays is almost always interesting, for two reasons. First, he knows how to praise or dissent, and to do so with much originality; secondly, he speaks of the ideas that were shaping his own thought and work at this important moment in his career, so that this book is as much a contribution to our understanding of Auden as it is to our appreciation of Shakespeare. It is beautifully edited and should interest all readers of Shakespeare and all admirers of Auden."--Frank Kermode

"Auden's lectures on Shakespeare are a marvelous blend of steady, patient intelligence and stunning insight--spirited, free-thinking, resourceful, unintimidated, liberated from the air of treacly piety, and very, very intelligent."--Stephen Greenblatt

 

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