Auden and Christianity by Arthur Kirsch

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One of the twentieth century’s most important poets, W. H. Auden stands as an eloquent example of an individual within whom thought and faith not only coexist but indeed nourish each other. This book is the first to explore in detail how Auden’s religious faith helped him to come to terms with himself as an artist and as a man, despite his early disinterest in religion and his homosexuality. Auden and Christianity shows also how Auden’s Anglican faith informs, and is often the explicit subject of, his poetry and prose.

Arthur Kirsch, a leading Auden scholar, discusses the poet’s boyhood religious experience and the works he wrote before emigrating to the United States as well as his formal return to the Anglican Communion at the beginning of World War II. Kirsch then focuses on Auden’s criticism and on neglected and underestimated works of the poet’s later years. Through insightful readings of Auden’s writings and biography, Kirsch documents that Auden’s faith and his religious doubt were the matrix of his work and life.


About Arthur Kirsch

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Arthur Kirsch is Professor of English, Emeritus, University of Virginia. He has written extensively on Shakespeare as well as Auden and recently edited a new edition of Auden’s The Sea and the Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.”
Published October 11, 2005 by Yale University Press. 240 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

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Publishers Weekly

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Kirsch teases out themes and some ironies in Auden's more religious poetry, such as his insistence on the importance of the body in worship when he, as a homosexual man, remained ambivalent about whether his own body was sinful.

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The New York Review of Books

As Auden noted, the gospels describe the commandments to love one’s God and to love one’s neighbor as “like” each other, and for Auden the moral significance of one’s neighbor becomes clear when one thinks of him as created in the image of God.

Dec 06 2007 | Read Full Review of Auden and Christianity

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