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Early Auden, Later Auden:
A Critical Biography
Edward Mendelson
With a new preface by the author

Paperback | 2017 | $35.00 | £27.95 | ISBN: 9780691172491
912 pp. | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400882946 |
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Presented in one volume for the very first time, and updated with new archival discoveries, Early Auden, Later Auden reintroduces Edward Mendelson's acclaimed, two-part biography of W. H. Auden (1907–73), one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century. This book offers a detailed history and interpretation of Auden’s oeuvre, spanning the duration of his career from juvenilia to his final works in poetry as well as theatre, film, radio, opera, essays, and lectures.

Early Auden, Later Auden follows the evolution of the poet’s thought, offering a comparison of Auden’s views at various junctures over a lifetime. With penetrating insight, Mendelson examines Auden’s early ideas, methods, and personal transitions as reflected in poems, manuscripts, and private papers. The book then links changes in Auden’s intellectual, emotional, and religious experience with his shifting public role—showing the depth of his personal struggles with self and with fame, and the means by which these internal conflicts were reflected in his art in later years.

Featuring a new preface by the author, Early Auden, Later Auden is an engaging and timeless work that demonstrates Auden’s remarkable range and complexity, paying homage to his enduring legacy.

Edward Mendelson is the literary executor of the Estate of W. H. Auden, and the Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University. His books include Moral Agents, The Things That Matter, and Lives of the New York Intellectuals.


"It's a wealth of intelligence, knowledge and insight that Mendelson . . . brings to this study. . . . With his array of interpretative tools, he solves for the first time the notorious obscurities of Auden's earliest work."--Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, New York Times

"Remarkable . . . Presents the poet's life and art so vividly as to illuminate the major works and bring out neglected ones."--Grace Schulman, Nation

"Rich and suggestive in its generalizations, resourceful in its scholarship, and precise in its readings of Auden's work."--Paul Fussell, New Republic

"Mendelson's brilliant anatomy of Auden's career as a poet and magus in America is an intellectual and artistic tour de force."--Economist

"[An] astonishing critical study. . . . An absorbing life of the poet's mind . . . Exciting and provocative."--Walter Clemons, Newsweek

"[Mendelson's] close readings are always meticulous and insightful, and he draws detailed connections between what Auden read and what he wrote. . . . [S]hould be kept on the shelf right next to the Collected Poems."--Adam Kirsch, New York Observer

"Could well change the map of modern poetry. . . . A model of condensation, [it] proceeds through the huge, often neglected body of work with grace and wit."--Tom D'Evelyn, Boston Book Review


"Mendelson has looked behind the mask of the young Auden and perceived the complex loneliness of the poet behind it and the relation of his character to his poetry."--Stephen Spender

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Other Princeton books authored or coauthored by Edward Mendelson:

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