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Wystan Hugh Auden


Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973) was born in York in 1907. He was educated at Oxford University: e he soon revealed his poetic talent, and joined a group of young left-wing er intellectuals. After graduating in 1928 he spent a couple of years in Berlin, and when he returned to England he worked as a teacher for five years In 1935 he married Thomas Mann's daughter, Erika, to help her escape from Nazi Germany thanks to a British passport. They never lived together, but remained on friendly terms and never thought about a divorce His early works, such as Poems (1930), and Look, Stranger (1936) contain his political views on capitalist society and advocate freedom from conformism and repression In 1937 Auden was in for the prejudice and cruelty he witnessed on both side the war with Japan, Auden emigrated to the USA in 1939 and settle Spain to help the Republicans, but this experience greatly upset and disillusioned him s. After a visit to China, where he saw the atrocities of d in New York; a few years later he became a naturalised American citizen (he used to say that he considered himself not an American but a New Yorker) In America he held important positions with various schools and universities, gave lectures, edited literary magazines, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1948 While Marx and Freud had been his main reference points in the first part of his literary career, the disillusionment and the shock deriving from what he had witnessed both in Spain and in China, together with a personal evolution in his thinking, led Auden to seek a solution to evil in Christianity; after his emigration to America he became more and more involved with religious and theological themes, and he converted to the Anglican religion. The works written between 1939 and 1948, when Auden had made New York his home, are considered his best: Another Time (1940), a collection which includes Refugee Blues, one of the poems which express his commitment to political and social issues, Musée des Beaux Arts and September 1, 1939 on the beginning of World War 2, two lyrics about suffering which were revived becoming emblematic of our present-day mood after the attacks of September 11th; For the Time Being (1944) a modern Nativity oratorio, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Anxiety (1947), whose title is often used to define the decades between the two World Wars In 1948 Auden began to spend his summers in Europe, first in Italy and then in Austria. From 1956 to 1961 he was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and in 1972 he returned to live there. His later poetry includes Nones (1951), The Shield of Achilles (1955), and City Without Walls (1969) Auden died of a heart attack in Vienna in 1973, after giving a poetry reading.
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