What W. H. Auden Can Do for You

Hardcover | September 29, 2013

byAlexander Mccall Smith

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When facing a moral dilemma, Isabel Dalhousie--Edinburgh philosopher, amateur detective, and title character of a series of novels by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith--often refers to the great twentieth-century poet W. H. Auden. This is no accident: McCall Smith has long been fascinated by Auden. Indeed, the novelist, best known for his No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, calls the poet not only the greatest literary discovery of his life but also the best of guides on how to live. In this book, McCall Smith has written a charming personal account about what Auden has done for him--and what he just might do for you.

Part self-portrait, part literary appreciation, the book tells how McCall Smith first came across the poet's work in the 1970s, while teaching law in Belfast, a violently divided city where Auden's "September 1, 1939," a poem about the outbreak of World War II, strongly resonated. McCall Smith goes on to reveal how his life has related to and been inspired by other Auden poems ever since. For example, he describes how he has found an invaluable reflection on life's transience in "As I Walked Out One Evening," while "The More Loving One" has provided an instructive meditation on unrequited love. McCall Smith shows how Auden can speak to us throughout life, suggesting how, despite difficulties and change, we can celebrate understanding, acceptance, and love for others.

An enchanting story about how art can help us live, this book will appeal to McCall Smith's fans and anyone curious about Auden.

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From the Publisher

When facing a moral dilemma, Isabel Dalhousie--Edinburgh philosopher, amateur detective, and title character of a series of novels by best-selling author Alexander McCall Smith--often refers to the great twentieth-century poet W. H. Auden. This is no accident: McCall Smith has long been fascinated by Auden. Indeed, the novelist, best k...

From the Jacket

"Alexander McCall Smith's voice in this splendid book is instantly recognizable as the calm, sympathetic, psychologically shrewd, and morally generous one that narrates his novels. This is not only a convincing account of W. H. Auden's poetry and life. It is also a self-portrait of McCall Smith himself and a testimony to the wisdom and...

Alexander McCall Smith is the internationally best-selling author of numerous novels, including the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series, the Isabel Dalhousie series, the Portuguese Irregular Verbs series, and the 44 Scotland Street series. His books have been translated into forty-six languages. Formerly a professor of medical law, ...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:152 pages, 6 × 4 × 0.98 inPublished:September 29, 2013Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691144737

ISBN - 13:9780691144733

Customer Reviews of What W. H. Auden Can Do for You

Reviews

Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful A wonderful book if you are into poetry!
Date published: 2014-05-20

Extra Content

Table of Contents

Author's Note vii
1. Love Illuminates Again . . . 1
2. Who Was He? 7
3. A Discovery of Auden 19
4. Choice and Quest 33
5. The Poet as Voyager 39
6. Politics and Sex 45
7. If I Could Tell You I Would Let You Know 55
8. What Freud Meant 65
9. A Vision of Agape 75
10. That We May Have Dreams and Visions 91
11. And Then There Is Nature 99
12. Auden as a Guide to the Living of One's Life 123

Editorial Reviews

"Entertainingly dense yet poetically informative, I found What W.H. Auden Can Do For You a more than inspiring read, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone remotely interested in poetics and the sometimes shameful ways of the world."--David Marx