In a review of George Orwell’s collected essays, W. H. Auden admitted that it was impossible in a single review to deal adequately with volumes that ran to over two thousand pages. The same disclaimer can be made by a reviewer who picks up these two volumes of Auden’s late prose, 1,400 pages that cover the years 1963 to his death in 1973.1 With their publication, Edward Mendelson’s superb edition of the poet’s work nears completion. (Still to come is perhaps the most important of the seven volumes, Auden’s poems.) What’s astonishing about the items collected here is that they were written in the ten-year stretch that concluded Auden’s life. Their range, brilliance, and...

 

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