‘A shilling life will give you all the facts’, and though Mr Osborne’s life of Auden costs rather more than a shilling it is certainly rich in specific information. Auden’s love-affairs are here (one of them was with a woman), and the poet’s public career is competently surveyed. But essentially the book adds little to the picture many readers will already have formed from Spender’s and Isherwood’s impartings and from Auden’s own ‘Letter to Lord Byron’, his anthology A Certain World, and his review of Leonard Woolf’s autobiography. It is really a ‘life and times’ kind of book, and like most such books it tells us more about the ‘times’ than the life. It is all rather external. I was personally acquainted with W H Auden and thought him a very nice and kindly man and an impressive one too, not only witty and humorous but often wise and sensible. In this biography something of Auden’s humour comes through, but the other things do not.
Follow Literary Review on Twitter
'The return of nature to Wordsworthian commentary is a corollary of the environmentalist spirit of the age.'
Seamus Perry on Jonathan Bate's 'Radical Wordsworth'.
My review of Samanta Schewblin's 'Little Eyes', in this month's issue of @Lit_Review
'Has the printed book finally outlived its span?' asks @AdamCSDouglas. 'If so, how long can the rare book trade continue? And how much longer can we keep flying in fat-bellied jets to gather in some foreign land to exhibit our wares?'