The definitive study of Auden's poems from 1939 to 1973.
"For a poet like myself, an autobiography is redundant," W. H. Auden wrote to a friend, "since anything of importance that happens to one is immediately incorporated, however obscurely, in a poem." This book is the history of Auden's poems, and of the events that went into them, from the time he moved to the United States until his death, completing the story begun in Edward Mendelson's acclaimed Early Auden.
Later Auden links the changes in Auden's intellectual, emotional, religious, and erotic life with his shifting public roles--as representative of political causes, as researcher working with the U.S. Army in postwar Germany, as public moralist, as lecturer and teacher, and above all as poet. Mendelson deftly reveals how Auden converted the success and later wreckage of his relationship with Chester Kallman into the seemingly impersonal meditations of some of his long poems, and explores the ways his later poetry celebrates the human body and represents it in verse. Throughout, he reveals the depth of Auden's struggles with himself and with the temptations of his growing fame, showing how these struggles gave shape to his imperishable art.
This inner biography of a great poet and thinker has unusual breadth and intensity. An absorbing narrative of a varied, productive life, it will interest everyone who cares about literature.