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The Age of Auden:
Postwar Poetry and the American Scene
Aidan Wasley

Book Description | Table of Contents
Chapter 1 [in PDF format]


"Aidan Wasley shows how W. H. Auden's presence in America and the particular qualities of his later writing made him the central figure for a generation of American poets. Wasley has persuaded me that Auden's vision of America itself--optimistic, but dry, not fanciful--was part of the attraction. The discussions here of Ashbery, Rich, and especially Merrill have real delicacy and bring out hidden strengths and surprising affinities among these poets."--David Bromwich, Yale University

"Aidan Wasley has done major archival work in unpublished letters and manuscripts to establish a fresh argument about Auden's American presence. In addition, his book shows how personal contact and friendships also constitute a form of literary influence. The Age of Auden brings to life the poets and the poetry of mid-twentieth-century America; it's a pleasure to read."--Lucy McDiarmid, Montclair State University

"Auden did more for American poetry than most of its readers now see: Wasley's perceptive and generous book shows how much more, and offers some good reasons why. An informal master of verse forms, a critic of genius, and a generous host, Auden gave his American inheritors a plethora of gifts: to Merrill a sense of poetic collaboration, to Ashbery an ideal of conversation, to Rich an admired target for later rebellion, and to other poets, from Ginsberg to Brodsky, much more. If you already know the powers in Auden's late work, this is a book you'll need; if you doubt his late influence, Wasley will have you convinced."--Stephen Burt, Harvard University

"In this wide-ranging and thickly detailed study, Aidan Wasley makes a compelling case for viewing Auden as a central figure in the history of American poetry, one who played many roles--as model, mentor, sponsor, teacher, cautionary example, even antagonist--and left an especially deep impress on the poetic generation that came of age after his emigration to the United States."--Roger Gilbert, Cornell University

"This long-overdue book examines one of the most important junctures in twentieth-century American literature: the effect--personal, literary, cultural, political--that W. H. Auden's emigration to the United States had on the extraordinarily rich generation of American poets born in the 1920s, especially John Ashbery, James Merrill, and Adrienne Rich. The book is elegantly recited; it is based on startling archival work; and its careful readings honor the art of poetry."--James Longenbach, University of Rochester

"This festive literary history rereads postwar American poetry as a party crowded into W. H. Auden's New York apartment. Poems and personalities, politics, ethics, sexuality, the nature of tradition, and the problem of national identity are under discussion. There are acolytes on the guest list, but self--declared enemies and party-crashers, too--all of them influenced, in their ideas about poetry and America, by the host. And while we see how much Auden mattered to American poetry, we see, too, how much America mattered to Auden's ideas about culture and poetry."--Langdon Hammer, Yale University

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File created: 4/21/2017

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