The Landscapes of W. H. Auden’s Interwar Poetry
Roots and Routes
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This is the first book-length study foregrounding Auden’s sense of place as a means for enhancing our grasp of this crucial twentieth-century poet.
Proposing that Auden had a remarkable spatial sensibility, this book concentrates on his treatment of his homeland England, as well as the North Pennines and Iceland, both of which served as his ‘good’ places, ‘holy’ grounds and sources of topophilic sentiments. The readings draw on the scholarship of humanistic geography tracing patterns of mental constructs which emerge from spatial experience. In a scholarly but engaging way, this book argues that attention to Auden’s poetics of place as it emerged and evolved can be instrumental to our understanding of this influential poet not only in relation to his epoch but also to the Anglophone poetic tradition. Precisely because of his stature, these elaborations on Auden’s preoccupation with places, escapism, borders and local identity promise to enrich our understanding of the cultural and intellectual climate of the interwar period, when established notions of local places and cultures were beginning to be contested by internationalisation.
This study will be of interest to both academics and students in the field of Anglophone literary studies while also appealing to those attracted to Auden’s poetry, interwar culture and the literary representation of space.
Table of Contents
1 The Map of Auden’s Mythical Geography
2 ‘My Great Good Place’ in the Pennines
3 ‘My Tutrix’: England in Auden’s Poetry
4 My Dream Exile on an Island with a Halo
5 Roots, Routes and Landscapes
Ladislav Vít studied at Charles University, Prague, and now works at the University of Pardubice, Czech Republic. His research interests lie with British interwar writing, literary topography and the poetics of place. His major focus is on W. H. Auden’s spatial responsiveness from the perspective of cultural and humanistic geography. His publications include ‘Landscape as a Benchmark: Poetics of Place as a Critical Tool in W. H. Auden’s Prose’ (2018), ‘Poetry and Place in Auden’s Letters from Iceland’ (2016) and ‘Feet on the Ground: Landscape in Auden’s Late Poetry’ (2014). He is the co-founder and executive editor of the scholarly journal American and British Studies Annual, published since 2008.