Jon Stallworthy Louis MacNeice. --> reviewed by Thomas Mallon -->

He is forever a “young writer of the Thirties,” the fourth poet of depression and dictatorship—the last mentioned, the second best, the most humanly appealing. As that dogmatic decade came to a close, Auden galloped off to America, Spender began his long plush plod into a half-century afterlife, and Day Lewis the retreat from millennial Marxist to murmuring Laureate. Louis MacNeice, too honest all along to have anything to recant, just stayed alert, keeping his cold but appreciative eyes peeled. Now, more than thirty years after the poet’s death, Jon Stallworthy, previously the author of Wilfred Owen, has built a sturdy, unstylish biography, overlong by about the same proportion as MacNeice’s life (1907–1963) was too short.

As poets go,...


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