This acclaimed study from 1981 of W.H. Auden's writings up to 1939 remains one of the most penetrating, detailed, and informative examinations of the poet's prewar poetry and ideas. Auden's friend and literary executor Edward Mendelson has an unrivaled knowledge of his published texts, manuscripts, drafts, private papers, essays, and reviews, which he uses to make striking connections between the artist and his early work.
"A work of remarkable insight, I feel that Mr. Mendelson has looked behind the mask of the young Auden and perceived the complex loneliness behind it and the relation of his character to his poetry."—Stephen Spender