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Edward Mendelson: Three Joyces, 27 October 1988

... The fight over the new Ulysses, like all academic arguments over commas, is a fight between two ideas of human nature, two visions of judgment, two images of eternity*. On one side of the textual arena Hans Walter Gabler offers an ‘ideal text’ from which all error, especially the author’s, has been burned away in the refining fire of bibliographical theory ...

An American Romance

Edward Mendelson, 18 February 1982

Old Glory: An American Voyage 
by Jonathan Raban.
Collins, 527 pp., £9.95, October 1981, 9780002165211
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No particular place to go 
by Hugo Williams.
Cape, 200 pp., £6.50, October 1981, 0 224 01810 8
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... Old Glory – the book written by Jonathan Raban – is an altogether different book from the Old Glory that was praised in the reviews, but it is no less wonderful for that. The book the reviewers wrote about does not exist at all, except as the ghost of an intention. This phantasmal Old Glory is the book which Raban originally planned to write, and which he expected would be little more than an elegant travel diary: the record of a passive drifting journey down the Mississippi in the track of Huckleberry Finn ...

Loose Canons

Edward Mendelson, 23 June 1988

History and Value: The Clarendon Lectures and the Northcliffe Lectures 1987 
by Frank Kermode.
Oxford, 160 pp., £15, June 1988, 0 19 812381 7
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by Stephen Haggard and Frank Kermode.
Oxford, 475 pp., £5.95, June 1988, 0 19 282135 0
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British Writers of the Thirties 
by Valentine Cunningham.
Oxford, 530 pp., £30, February 1988, 0 19 212267 3
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... He prefers to enlarge the canon, and makes an exemplary case for a difficult outsider like Edward Upward, still loyal to the romantic communism of his youth, still a witness against the murderous power of the state. He has less patience with the Post-Modernists and their fantasy that we live at the end of an era when canons and coherences were possible ...

Post-Modern Vanguard

Edward Mendelson, 3 September 1981

After the Wake: An Essay on the Contemporary Avant-Garde 
by Christopher Butler.
Oxford, 177 pp., £7.95, November 1980, 0 19 815766 5
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... Christopher Butler’s survey of post-war literature, music and painting maintains a judicious critical distance from its subject. Readers who wish a more direct report from the front lines of the avant-garde should consult a new anthology, Collective Consciousness: Art Performances in the Seventies, edited by Jean Dupuy.* This documents the work of almost two hundred avant-gardists from Europe and America who displayed their most advanced work at a gallery in New York and wrote explanatory statements for inclusion in the book ...

What Kind of Guy?

Michael Wood: W.H. Auden, 10 June 1999

Later Auden 
by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 570 pp., £25, May 1999, 0 571 19784 1
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... That is the way things happen,’ Auden writes in ‘Memorial for the City’, a poem Edward Mendelson dates from June 1949,                           for ever and everPlum-blossom falls on the dead, the roar of the waterfall coversThe cries of the whipped and the sighs of the loversAnd the hard bright light composesA meaningless moment into an eternal factWhich a whistling messenger disappears with into a defile:One enjoys glory, one endures shame;He may, she must ...

I really mean like

Michael Wood: Auden’s Likes and Dislikes, 2 June 2011

The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose Vol. IV, 1956-62 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 982 pp., £44.95, January 2011, 978 0 691 14755 0
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... and an important feature of his view of life; but he was seriously ‘unsettled’, as Edward Mendelson says, and had acquired ‘a profound new sense of menace and dread’.He had become professor of poetry at Oxford in 1956, although he was still mainly living in New York, and in 1958 he had shifted his summer residence from Ischia to a ...

Uncle Wiz

Stefan Collini: Auden, 16 July 2015

Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. V: 1963-68 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 561 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Prose, Vol. VI: 1969-73 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 790 pp., £44.95, June 2015, 978 0 691 15171 7
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... volumes of prose are provided. In 1972 Auden had largely entrusted the selection of the pieces to Edward Mendelson, then a young English professor at Yale, thus launching him on a series of heroic editorial tasks which, 43 years later, is still not finished. As an editor, Mendelson is meticulous, judicious and quite ...


Ian Sansom, 17 July 1997

W.H. Auden: Prose 1926-38, Essays and Reviews and Travel Books in Prose and Verse 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 836 pp., £40, March 1997, 0 571 17899 5
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... flow, whether from prose to poem, or poem to prose (a problem that will undoubtedly be solved when Edward Mendelson concludes his uniform edition of Auden’s complete works with a fully appendixed and noted Collected Poems). In an article in September 1932, for example, Auden can be found moaning about ‘the system’ and the fact that ‘no one can ...

The Sound of Cracking

Pankaj Mishra: ‘The Age of the Crisis of Man’, 27 August 2015

The Age of the Crisis of Man: Thought and Fiction in America, 1933-73 
by Mark Greif.
Princeton, 434 pp., £19.95, January 2015, 978 0 691 14639 3
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Moral Agents: Eight 20th-Century American Writers 
by Edward Mendelson.
New York Review, 216 pp., £12.99, May 2015, 978 1 59017 776 1
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... appears to possess a special being and authority. Greif moves nimbly from Being and Nothingness to Edward Steichen’s Family of Man exhibition at MoMA and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet his way of weaving a network of resemblances and discontinuities together, along with his evident gift for paraphrase and summary, might lead the reader to ...

With Slip and Slapdash

Frank Kermode: Auden’s Prose, 7 February 2008

The Complete Works of W.H. Auden. Vol. III: Prose, 1949-55 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Princeton, 779 pp., £29.95, December 2007, 978 0 691 13326 3
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... Another important work was Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy’s strange book Out of Revolution, which Mendelson identifies as a formative influence on The Age of Anxiety. He read intensively, and mainly with his own intellectual needs in mind. Like many heavy readers he loved detective stories, but he took them seriously, prefixing to his essay ‘The Guilty ...

Auden Askew

Barbara Everett, 19 November 1981

W.H. Auden: A Biography 
by Humphrey Carpenter.
Allen and Unwin, 495 pp., £12.50, June 1981, 0 04 928044 9
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Early Auden 
by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 407 pp., £10, September 1981, 0 571 11193 9
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... it is not) an official biography, he has evidently depended on or even worked fairly closely with Edward Mendelson, perhaps Auden’s ‘scholar-in-chief’, his literary executor and the editor who worked directly according to his wishes. And yet legends afflict Mendelson’s work as well. After his edition of the ...


Frank Kermode: What Went On at the Arts Council, 4 December 1986

... academics,’ he says, though without explaining what they are envious of. He takes a swing at Edward Mendelson, the academic who is Auden’s executor, even though he found Mendelson helpful when writing his biography of the poet. The professor did not much like Osborne’s book when it appeared, and his judgment ...

Dog Days

Stan Smith, 11 January 1990

Plays and Other Dramatic Writings by W.H. Auden, 1928-1938 
edited by Edward Mendelson.
Faber, 680 pp., £25, July 1989, 0 571 15115 9
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... for example, that other lost play, The Fronny) reconstructed by the patient detective work of Edward Mendelson, repeatedly exemplify this association. The Enemies of a Bishop (1929), published here for the first time, ends with Robert Bicknell shooting his Spectre, a crime the village policeman greets with typical equanimity: Policeman: Ee’s ...

Maximum Assistance from Good Cooking, Good Clothes, Good Drink

Frank Kermode: Auden’s Shakespeare, 22 February 2001

Lectures on Shakespeare 
by W.H. Auden, edited by Arthur Kirsch.
Faber, 398 pp., £30, February 2001, 9780571207121
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... very idiosyncratic account of Christian history, ‘tracing patterns unimaginable by others’, as Edward Mendelson remarks – a disparaging view the poet himself later accepted. Throughout the time he was working on The Age of Anxiety the tone of his thinking was rather bleakly religious. The poem is set on the night of All Souls, a feast of which the ...


John Lanchester, 16 November 1995

Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound 
edited by Michael Alexander and James McGonigal.
Rodopi, 183 pp., $23.50, July 1995, 90 5183 840 9
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‘In Solitude, for Company’: W.H. Auden after 1940 
edited by Katherine Bucknell and Nicholas Jenkins.
Oxford, 338 pp., £40, November 1995, 0 19 818294 5
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by Richard Davenport-Hines.
Heinemann, 406 pp., £20, October 1995, 0 434 17507 2
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Wystan and Chester: A Personal Memoir of W.H. Auden and Chester Kallman 
by Thekla Clark.
Faber, 130 pp., £12.99, October 1995, 0 571 17591 0
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... a memoir by Stella Musulin, a friend of Auden’s during his years at Kirchstetten in Austria; Edward Mendelson’s bibliography of published letters by Auden; and a symposium on Auden’s great poem ‘In Praise of Limestone’. The overall standard of critical comment and editing is exceptionally high; the depth of knowledge revealed, especially in ...

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