Friday, September 25, 2015

God's plenty …

… Michael Dirda: W.H. Auden, Complete - Book Review - Truthdig. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Auden’s journalism and criticism, like his stints as a lecturer and teacher, were mainly undertaken to pay the bills, but he never became a hack. When in 1966 Life magazine offered the enormous sum of $10,000 for 6,000 words on the fall of Rome, he turned in a heavily researched piece that compared the 3rd century with the 20th and duly predicted that our world would soon go smash. When the editors balked and asked for a rewrite, Auden stood his ground. As Mendelson notes, “The essay was rejected and he was paid nothing.” On another occasion, when an anthologist asked to reprint some early poems, including the famous “Spain” and “September 1, 1939,” Auden agreed but insisted on this printed stipulation: “Mr. W.H. Auden considers these five poems to be trash which he is ashamed to have written.”

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