The Poet Auden
To the Editor:
Christopher Caldwell’s reading of the career of W.H. Auden [“Countercultural Auden,” May] seemed to me entirely admirable and convincing, and I could hardly think otherwise, because I make a very similar argument in the manuscript of a book I have just finished on Auden’s later years.
Strictly as a point of personal honor, therefore, may I say that I certainly hope I never called “Spain” the “greatest poem of the 1930′s,” as Mr. Caldwell says I did. I think he may have misread the passage in Richard Davenport-Hines’s book where he quotes me as saying that about the sonnet sequence, “In Time of War,” whose rhetorical technique and historical vision are entirely different from those of “Spain,” and which, as I argued in my book on Auden’s early work, was written partly as a refutation and rejection of “Spain.”
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