This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose provides a unique picture of this legendary writer's mind and art when he was at the height of his powers, from 1956 through 1962, including the years when he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford. The volume includes his best-known and most important prose collection, The Dyer's Hand, as well as scores of essays, reviews, and lectures on subjects ranging from J. R. R. Tolkien and Martin Luther to psychedelic drugs, cooking, and Homer. Much of the material has never been collected in book form, and some selections, such as the witty orations Auden wrote for ceremonies at Oxford University, are almost entirely unknown.
Edward Mendelson's introduction and comprehensive notes provide biographical and historical explanations of all obscure references. The text includes extensive corrections and revisions that Auden marked in personal copies of his work and which are printed here for the first time.
"Volume IV of Auden's prose . . . is, like the others, edited by Edward J. Mendelson with unparalleled care and discretion, but it allows us an additional pleasure, since The Dyer's Hand occupies its last major part. Thus we can read that book as Auden wanted us to, before or after we look at the rest of the prose . . . or we could just dip and skim in the whole volume, go away and come back, guided by names and titles and chance--there's plenty to keep us busy."--London Review of Books
"This fourth volume of W. H. Auden's prose, edited and introduced by Edward Mendelson with customary mastery, covers a mere six years of the poet's life. But they were eventful years for him, personally and intellectually. . . . The whole of The Dyer's Hand appears in this volume of the Complete Works, and most of what Auden drew from in making up the book is here, too, in its original and unrevised form."--Alan Jacobs, Books & Culture
"I can give this collection a strong recommendation."--Alfred Corn, Gay and Lesbian Review
"If anything, The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose, Volume IV, 1956-1962 is a literary tour-de-force, that covers as well as conveys, almost everything this ultimate poet, writer, quintessential observer of life and critic, was all about. . . . [This] is a very well conceived and comprehensive 'lucky accident.' Not to mention an all-round, terrific book."--David Marx, David Marx Book Reviews
Praise for the previous volume: "Prose, Volume III is wonderfully edited, like all the many editions of Auden supervised by Edward Mendelson. . . . [T]he articles will delight any reader with their wit, charm, and elegance."--Charles Rosen, New York Review of Books
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