Autumn 1963 • Vol. XXV No. 4 Book Reviews |

The Sound of Auden

Aaron Rosen THE SOUND OF AUDEN THE DYER'S HAND by W. H. Auden. Random House, $8.50. AUDEN, THE CRITIC, IS GENERALLY acclaimed as a witty moralist who insists on the metaphysical dimen- sion of all problems while talking homely, humble, though urgent turkey to the common reader. Both of these qualities are evident in this collection. But as they now appear, they pose a problem about Auden's whole critical practice. In part, this is because the unit of or- ganization which he imposes on his past essays and reviews-"I have reduced them, when possible, to sets of notes"- is, even in the more ambitious essays, the aphor- ism and the aperqu. This collection suggests the importance of point of view or "voice" in assessing Auden's strengths and weaknesses as a critic and in judging the larger impulses which dominate the collection. Auden's particular forte as a critic is his great skill at games: his ability to view any system- social, theological, or literary-in terms other than its own. H

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