March 24, 2013

THE AUDEN GROUP (England)



THE AUDEN GROUP (England)

The Auden Group is a very loosely aligned number of British and Irish poets writing through the 1930s. They are also sometimes referred to as the Thirties Poets.
     All the poets knew one another, and most had been educated at either Oxford or Cambridge, all sharing vaguely left-wing viewpoints, although one of the group, Louis MacNeice was highly suspicious of Communism. The writers associated with the grouping—W. H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, Cecil Day-Lewis, Stephen Spender, Christopher Isherwood, an, to a lesser degree, Edward Upward and Rex Warner—never gathered together in the same room, nor shared any coherent poetic or literary values. Four of them, Auden, Day-Lewis, MacNeice, and Spender did read together in a 1938 BBC broadcast, that also included Dylan Thomas, but the reading was not significant in their any community sense.
    Rather, the poets connected individually, particularly through Auden, who collaborated several times with both Isherwood and MacNeice, and wrote with Day-Lewis an introduction to the annual Oxford Poetry. Auden also dedicated books to Isherwood and Spender, and Day-Lewis mentioned Auden in a poem. But in the public mind, the individuals continued to be linked, with poet Roy Campbell referring to “MacSpaunday” in his 1946 work, Talking Bronco, a word created from the names of MacNeice (Mac), Spender (sp), Auden (au-n), and Day-Lewis (day). Although some members of this group were gay and even had sexual liaisons, MacNeice and Day-Lewis were apparently heterosexual.

Douglas Messerli

No comments: