The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays by W. H. Auden

By W. H. Auden

During this quantity, W. H. Auden assembled, edited, and organized the easiest of his prose writing, together with the recognized lectures he introduced as Oxford Professor of Poetry.  The result's much less a proper selection of essays than a longer and associated sequence of observations--on poetry, paintings, and the remark of existence in general.  The Dyer's Hand is a shockingly own, intimate view of the author's brain, whose crucial concentration is poetry--Shakespearean poetry in particular--but whose province is the author's entire adventure of the 20th century.

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To read is to translate, for no two persons’ experiences are the same. A bad reader is like a bad translator: he interprets literally when he ought to paraphrase and paraphrases when he ought to interpret literally. In learning to read well, scholarship, valuable as it is, is less important than instinct; some great scholars have been poor translators. We often derive much profit from reading a book in a different way from that which its author intended but only (once childhood is over) if we know that we are doing so.

Ever so many lessons to learn! ) Most writers, except the supreme masters who transcend all systems of classification are either Alices or Mabels. For example : Alice Mabel Montaigne Pascal Marvell Donne Bums Shelley Jane Austen Dickens Turgenev Dostoievski Valery Gide Virginia Woolf Joyce E. M. ” Except when used as historical labels, the terms classical and romantic are misleading terms for two poetic parties, the Aristocratic and the Democratic, which have always existed and to one of which every writer belongs, though he may switch his party allegiance or, on some specific issue, refuse to obey his Party Whip.

A word like pyrites, for example, was for me, not simply an indicative sign; it was the Proper Name of a Sacred Being, so that, when I heard an aunt pronounce it pirrits, I was shocked. Her pronunciation was more than wrong, it was ugly. Ignorance was impiety. It was Edward Lear, I believe, *( I was wrong: it was Samuel Butler) who said that the true test of imagination is the ability to name a cat, and we are told in the first chapter of Genesis that the Lord brought to unfallen Adam all the creatures that he might name them and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof, which is to say, its Proper Name.

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