Top 10 Books by W.H.Auden

 

When it comes to W H Auden, the audience is sharply divided as to whether the poet was indeed deserving of his praise given how as one critic put it, he excelled in lightweight poetry. However, it is a fact that W.H.Auden was indeed a prolific author and one who has penned several poems, some of which have been featured as some of the top poems on their own. Here are some of the top ten books by W H Auden, one which you need to take a closer look at.

 

The age of Anxiety

If there was one book that was equally praised for its fresh outlook and yet castigated as one of Auden’s Failures, it would have to be this one. Penned in 1944, against the backdrop of World War 2, it was to be one of Auden’s last long works, one that went on to garner him the Pulitzer prize. The poem was indeed mesmerizing, both in its tone and flavor which is why it is  a must read for all Auden fans.

Read it For:
the whimsical style that was Auden, to the mesmerizing play with words
Don't Read it For:
If you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
the sheer depth of the poem, from the prologue to the epilogue

September 1, 1939

This poem is one of the very few that Auden had insisted that it be published with a note saying that he was ashamed of the same. This naturally, made the poem all the more famous and stands tall today as one of the very few that finds resonance in modern society today. The poem, as the title suggests was written just around the outbreak of the second World War and epitomizes the heady pre-war days, the hope, and the justifiable outrage.

Read it For:
its metaphorical outlook on English society as a whole, before and during the Second World War
Don't Read it For:
If you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
For a gripping read, on all the events leading up to the war itself

For the time being

This book was to become one of his pivotal works; published in 1944, Auden wrote this in the midst of a personal crisis which lent its own flavor to this work. Auden managed to take up one of the most written topics, the meaning of Christmas, and managed to make it stand out for all the right reasons.

Read it For:
For Auden’s only religious poem, that still stands out as a masterpiece
Don't Read it For:
If you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
The sheer depth of words used, makes this poem about Christmas come alive

The Dyer’s hand

Published in 1964, this collection of essays is one of the best prose works of Auden to be published to date. It is a collection of essays, penned on his lectures on Poetry, as well as his outlook on modern life in general. This book certainly offers you a glimpse into the complex man that W.H.Auden was and one that enables you to understand him better.

Read it For:
for a closer look at W.H Auden
Don't Read it For:
if you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
some of his best essays are included in this book which sets it apart from the rest of his work, making it one of W.H.Auden bestsellers
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The Sea and the mirror

It was common knowledge that Auden loved Shakespesare so it was not that surprising to know that he based his poem on one of his works. What did surprise many was the choice of the Tempest, since Shakespeare offers more vivid choices. But that said, Auden manages to capture the essence that was tempest and recreate it into the sea and the mirror.

Read it For:
his inimitable style
Don't Read it For:
if you are not into Auden, then you may want to sit this one out
What makes this book stand out?:
sheer imaginative lyrics, the sort that haunts you long after you have read the book which is why it stands out as one of the top W.H.Auden books

Letters from Iceland

Letters from Iceland certainly stands out from the rest of Auden’s books for the simple reason that it contains both verse and prose, written with his inimitable wit and his observations on life in general. It sure makes for a riveting read and certainly stands out as a unique travel book. The book itself was written by Auden in 1934 and is a result of trip that both Auden and MacNeice took in 1936.

Read it For:
Wit, general observations of life in Iceland and a closer look at politics
Don't Read it For:
If you do not like Auden’s works, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
this book is one of Auden’s best, for it makes for an entertaining read, from Auden’s “Letter to Lord Byron”

Collected poems

Auden is one of the few poets who found a wide range for his expression, from deeply religious tones, to a whimsical look on life and even penning ones with pastoral themes. His vivid descriptions and the wordplay made each of these poems stand out on their own accord. This collection which was published in 1968, features some of the best works of W.H.Auden

Read it For:
if you love Auden’s poems, then you’ll love this book
Don't Read it For:
if you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
The versatility of the subjects and Auden’s unique style, which makes this book one of W.H Auden’s popular novels

The Double man

Of all of Auden’s books, this one is often the one that is a little hard to understand and one of his most complicated works to date which is saying something since Auden is often critiqued for being a light weight poet. The irony is that Auden is more relevant today, than any other poet, and this book, showcases modern society as never before, which is why this book ranks as one of W H Auden best sellers

Read it For:
For Auden’s inimitable style
Don't Read it For:
if you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
the sheer depth, of his lyrics and prose

The Orators

The Orators, part of his early work, set him apart from other poets for his clarity and insight. One could say that this was the book that launched Auden but that would be simplifying it. The book was published in1932 and was immediately praised for tackling some of the hard truths about modern society, one where “nobody is well?”

Read it For:
Auden’s view on England, between two world wars
Don't Read it For:
if you are not into Auden, then you may want to give this a miss
What makes this book stand out?:
Auden’s crisp lines, his insight and descriptive phrases

A certain world, a commonplace book

This book was published as a collection, an anthology that contained specific passages, including quotations from other authors picked out by Auden. While the book as a whole is not Auden, per se it nevertheless offers you a glimpse into the poetic genius that was Auden himself. From his earlier works to this one, which spans several topics from sin to landscapes, it is easy to see why W H Auden’s books often rank as some of the top bestsellers

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