September 1, 1939: A Biography of a Poem

September 1, 1939: A Biography of a Poem

Ian Sansom
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Author:  Ian Sansom
Condition:  New
Format:  Hardback
Pages:  352
Publisher:  HarperCollins Publishers
Year:  2019
ISBN:  9780007557219

This is a book about a poet, about a poem, about a city, and about a world at a point of change. More than a work of literary criticism or literary biography, it is a record of why and how we create and respond to great poetry.

This is a book about a poet - W. H. Auden, a wunderkind, a victim-beneficiary of a literary cult of personality who became a scapegoat and a poet-expatriate largely excluded from British literary history because he left.

About a poem - 'September 1, 1939', his most famous and celebrated, yet one which he tried to rewrite and disown and which has enjoyed - or been condemned - to a tragic and unexpected afterlife.

About a city - New York, an island, an emblem of the Future, magnificent, provisional, seamy, and in 1939 about to emerge as the defining twentieth-century cosmopolis, the capital of the world.

And about a world at a point of change - about 1939, and about our own Age of Anxiety, about the aftermath of September 11, when many American newspapers reprinted Auden's poem in its entirety on their editorial pages.