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Later Auden Hardcover – April 1, 1999
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Be warned though that this is a long book, and necessarily so, since it is a nuanced argument. The book is written to be read cover-to-cover, though it can serve as a good reference book for any reader who is already familiar with Auden's work. As literary criticism goes, Mendelson is clear and readable, partly because his interpretation is not controlled by any preconceived literary theory. Some readers may find that the lack of theoretical commitment bothersome, and others may be irritated by Mendelson's frequent focus on a largely biographical reading of Auden's work. But Mendelson's criticism goes a long way toward proving that, in Auden's case at least, interpretation must take biography into account. (Auden once claimed that a poet's biography is of no help in understanding his poetry, but Mendelson shows that this claim is quite untrue as it applies to Auden's own work.) This books is, obviously, a continuation of Mendelson's _Early Auden_, which should be read in conjunction with this book. These two volumes are the definitive works of Auden criticism so far, and along with John Fuller's _W. H. Auden: A Commentary_, they are the best available criticism of Auden's work.