Leavis some notes about Auden
29 July 2012 § Leave a comment
I have been wandering along the webby paths of knowledge-hopping, my favourite way to travel. It began when I was researching some tangentially-related-to-a-tangentially-related-to-a-tangentially-related thing at one point in the past few months. It may have been that Nkosi read (and loved) Conrad, on whose work F R Leavis wrote criticism.
I read a bit about Leavis and decided that I needed to read his criticism. (Literary criticism is terribly exciting to read, really; I don’t know how I am only recently discovering this.) In the midst of perusing lists of books by Leavis, W H Auden’s name caught my eye. I’ve seen it before but had not read anything about him. He was, after all, born in 1907, multiple years after the ending date of my somewhat strict rule (of reading nothing published after 1900).
He is fascinating. His statement that a good artist must be “more than a bit of a reporting journalist” gave me hope about writing biography-as-thesis, instead of fiction, this year. Now, though, I wish I were writing my thesis on Auden. Here is his summary of his emotional life:
If equal affection cannot be
Let the more loving one be me.
He described marriage as “the only subject”; he volunteered in the Spanish Civil War; he road-tripped across America; and he developed an interest in Bonhoeffer later in life. First on my list of his books to read: Letters from Iceland. I just looked him up in the library system, and I can’t wait to go to dear Perkins (oh, how I miss the library!), run to my favourite section (the PRs on the fourth floor), and check out all of his books.
P.S. I have only Wikipedia to educate me about his life right now. I am not ashamed—merely sad that I cannot peruse his biography.