Auden’s Love of Neighbor

This is my one hundredth post for Good Letters. What a privilege it has been to write for these readers (you readers) all this time. I treasure the stimulating conversations we’ve had through the comments, and the cyber-friendships I’ve made among Good Letters writers and readers.

To mark my one hundredth anniversary, I looked back at what I’d written for my very first post in 2008. (Of course I had no idea until I opened the document; I can’t remember what I’ve written—or read—a month ago, let alone five years ago.) Ah, it was on W.H. Auden.

I was curious: what about Auden had interested me then?

In The New York Review of Books, I’d read a review-essay, “Auden and God,” by Auden’s literary executor, Edward Mendelson. The book under review was Arthur Kirsch’s Auden and Christianity.

Mendelson praised Kirsch’s book but (as often in NYRB essays) scarcely referred to it in his own informative overview of Auden’s religious life. Though I’d long known about Auden’s Christianity, something about Mendelson’s presentation of it so stimulated me that I was zinging as if I’d slogged down four cups of coffee (though I’d had none: doctor’s orders). [Read more…]