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September 1, 1939

W. H. Auden and the Afterlife of a Poem

Ian Sansom

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Fourth Estate
20 November 2020
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.
By:   Ian Sansom
Imprint:   Fourth Estate
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 23mm
Weight:   240g
ISBN:   9780007557233
ISBN 10:   000755723X
Pages:   352
Publication Date:   20 November 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Ian Sansom is the author of 10 books of fiction and non-fiction. He is a former Fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge and a former Writer-in-Residence at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast. He is currently a Professor in the Department of English and Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Warwick. He is regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 4 and Radio 3 and he writes for The Guardian and The London Review of Books.

Reviews for September 1, 1939: W. H. Auden and the Afterlife of a Poem

Praise for September 1, 1939: 'Sansom has given us a book in which all serious readers of Auden will find something to value. He has chosen exactly the right poem for our times to anchor his thoughts on this man who came to define a generation' Literary Review 'Richly entertaining ... explores what goes on in the poem and why it has had such an impact. Shandyesque and magpie-like, scholarly yet frolicsome, the book makes room for all manner of diverse material, to great effect' Blake Morrison, Guardian Praise for Paper: 'Engaging and dynamic' Andrew Martin, Financial Times 'Wonderfully diverting...Splendidly dense with fact and thought' Steven Poole, Times Literary Supplement 'Sansom's scholarship is prodigious; his enthusiasm inexhaustible...He can make one laugh out loud by his placing of a single word' Daily Telegraph 'A collection of ever so erudite, witty, chucklesome essays, rich with digressions and asides, on paper, in many of its guises, that seeks to refute - and does refute - the idea that we are moving towards a paperless world' Bookmunch


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