The Complete Works of W. H. Auden: Prose (Vol. IV, 1956-1962)

Michael Wood writes:

Volume IV of Auden’s prose – Volumes I to III cover the years 1926-1955 – is, like the others, edited by Edward Mendelson with unparalleled care and discretion, but it allows us an additional pleasure, since The Dyer’s Hand occupies its last major part. Thus we can read that book as Auden wanted us to, before or after we look at the rest of the prose. Or we can read the pieces of the book in their chronological order, in which case we shall keep coming across mentions of the initial versions of the chapters of The Dyer’s Hand, spread out between 1956 and 1962, and we could read the chapters as we meet them in this way. Or we could just dip and skim in the whole volume, go away and come back, guided by names and titles and chance – there’s plenty to keep us busy. It’s pretty clear both that Auden needed the money and that he liked this way of making it.

(LRB 2 June 2011)

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