Download e-book for iPad: Auden's Games of Knowledge by Richard R. Bozorth

By Richard R. Bozorth

The 1st full-length attention of Auden as a gay poet, this quantity exhibits that Auden's profession used to be tied to a strategy of homosexual self-interrogation extraordinary in glossy poetry and argues that he used to be pushed by way of a strong craving to appreciate the mental, political, and moral implications of same-sex wish. Auden's theories approximately poetry within the Nineteen Thirties and after mirrored an extreme problem with the right way to write publicly as a gay poet. That fight used to be made take place in his love poetry, which Bozorth argues constitutes a type of "erotic autobiography" exploring the particular demanding situations of gay love.Bozorth's procedure is manifold, reading the poet's engagements with avant-garde poetics, homosexual culture, psychoanalysis, leftist politics, and theology. This booklet proposes that from his early fascination with undercover agent and trickster figures to his later theories of poetry as an I-Thou relation, Auden considered poetry as a fictional yet primal erotic stumble upon with the reader.

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For all its militant energy, The Orators also testifies to Auden’s doubts about avant-garde form: the madcap paranoia of the Airman’s efforts and the futility of his war against the enemy imply the ultimate impotence of politics-as-discursive-subversion. Chapter 4 examines how Auden sought a more accessible and politically effective voice as homosexual poet in the 1930s. Examining a number of shorter poems in detail, including the notorious “A Communist to Others,” I suggest that his inability finally to commit to communism involved uncertainty about how homosexual identity might coincide with a political identification with the working class.

Such relations, Auden implies, do not embody what the patron likes to feel he is buying—love. “Touching is shaking hands / On mortgaged lands”: the boy’s “gift” of his body is not a gift at all but a sign of “mortgage” to material poverty. If Auden’s intentions for poems like this one included camouflaging their specificity, it is also true that he often emphasized the personal occasions for his work by inscribing in friends’ copies of his books the names or initials of those about or to whom poems were written (see Carpenter, Auden 76).

Auden was a latecomer to the coterie discourse of Mortmere, but it is this kind of uncertainty that his early verse incites in the reader. Mortmere provided him with discursive resources to resist censorship and write about the unspeakable. But it also worked to unsettle the reader’s assumptions about meaning through semantic and syntactic instabilities that link the duplicity of signs not to abstract or ontological conditions so much as to social ones. In grafting Mortmere onto his own private landscape, Auden created a textual arena where the reader is forced to think like a spy because the poet is one himself.

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