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What W.H. Auden Can Do For You (Anglais) Relié – 10 septembre 2013


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Book by McCall Smith Alexander


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Ressortissant britannique né en 1948 au Zimbabwe, où il a grandi, Alexander McCall Smith vit aujourd'hui à Édimbourg et exerce les fonctions de professeur de droit appliqué à la médecine. Il est internationalement connu pour avoir créé le personnage de la première femme détective du Botswana, Mma Precious Ramotswe, héroïne d'une série qui compte déjà onze volumes. Quand il n'écrit pas, Alexander McCall Smith s'adonne à la musique - il fait partie de « l'Orchestre épouvantable » - et aux voyages. Il est également l'auteur des aventures d'Isabel Dalhousie, présidente du Club des philosophes amateurs et de 44 Scotland Street, qui inaugure les « Chroniques d' Édimbourg », un roman-feuilleton relatant les tribulations d'un immeuble peuplé de personnages hauts en couleur.

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22 internautes sur 23 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Very Sensitive Reading of Auden 29 septembre 2013
Par juki654 - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
To start with, I also love Auden; perhaps that was one reason I found the book so enjoyable. Many of the poems he discusses I've read and loved for years. He also discussed a couple I wasn't familiar with: a new treat.

I especially loved his reading of Auden's poem on Freud. I always believed I got my best understanding of Freud from Auden's poem, and now that is enriched. I also loved his reading of "Septembe 1, 1939", and was surprised to learn that Auden later somewhat disowned that poem. I wish Mr. McCall Smith had talked more about Auden's poem on Yeats, which is also about World War 2: "In the nightmare of the dark. . . "

I wonder, Mr. McCall Smith, if you've read Poetic Justice by Amanda Cross (Carolyn Heilbrun). It is also full of the most wonderful Auden quotes.

At any rate, thanks so much for such an enjoyable book. I see Auden's belief in the wonder of the ordinary, everyday details of life in Mr. Mcall's Ladies Detective books--also some of my favorite reads.
34 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Alexander McCall Smith on the poet who inspires him 22 septembre 2013
Par Julia Flyte - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
Alexander McCall Smith has long been fascinated by the poetry - and life - of W H Auden. One of his main characters, Isabel Dalhousie, is a devotee of the poet, while another, Mma Ramotswe, also shares his views on life. As McCall Smith explains, he has "learned so much from this poet. I have bathed in the richness of his language. I have wept over some of his lines. He can be with us in every part of our lives, showing us how rich life can be, and how precious". In this short book, McCall Smith talks about Auden's life and also explains the themes in his poetry which resonates with him.

Prior to reading this book I didn't know much about Auden, other than the fact that he was an English poet and that he was homosexual. In his 20s he travelled widely, living for a time in Berlin and also in Spain (where he had intended to drive an ambulance in the Civil War). At this time, he was close friends with Christopher Isherwood. In 1939 he moved to the US where he lived the majority of his life until his death in 1973.

Many of the themes in Auden's poetry reflect his sexuality, his interest in psychology and politics and his religious beliefs. McCall Smith talks about all of these things as well as picking up on common techniques that Auden used (for example inverting sentences for greater impact, the use of archaic words and personalising inanimate objects). McCall Smith has a conversational writing style which makes this book feel very personal, as if you're sitting down for a chat with him. One of the things that I like about his novels is the way that he seems to think a lot about how to live a better life and that also comes through in this book. I was particularly touched by the way that he talks about spiritual purpose and that religion can be an illogical but moral choice, making a determined commitment to pursue good.

Despite my comparative lack of interest in Auden going in, I enjoyed this book. And I now understand that the cover illustration is a reference to the poem "Musee des Beaux-Arts", where "the dogs go on with their doggy life" while Icarus falls unnoticed into the water behind them.

I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
10 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A bit thin 10 octobre 2013
Par M. F. Crowl - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This book acts as a good introduction to Auden, and gives some background and discussion to a few poems, but is rather thin otherwise. I enjoyed it, as I've enjoyed most of McCall Smith's books, but by the end you don't feel as though you've had much of a. meal.
12 internautes sur 13 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Good introduction for an Auden neophyte 29 décembre 2013
Par Samadrita Kuiti - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

My association with W.H. Auden and his literary output has been restricted to the occasional browsing through poets.org which gave rise to a somewhat fickle love for Lullaby (which I couldn't help but read more than once) and As I walked Out One Evening. But somehow the lines faded away from memory as soon as I closed the browser window, sometimes mere beautiful words and perfect cadence aren't sufficient to stimulate further intellectual curiosity. But Alexander McCall Smith's near fanboyish enthusiasm for one of the greatest English poets of the 20th century has forced me to reconsider my views on Auden and maybe even provided the much needed push to delve into his oeuvre further.

This is not literary criticism per se, but rather a mixed bag of Smith's views on the poet's personal life, his body of work and the way his worldviews figured in his poetry. It goes without saying, literature students may find this book vastly redundant as it contains nothing that hasn't already been recorded by academicians who have analyzed and dissected Auden's poetry from all probable angles. And Smith acknowledges this right at the beginning, very clearly stating that his intention behind writing this has been to offer a tribute to Auden who was, in a way, his personal literary icon.

There are separate chapters devoted to Auden's early years at Gresham's School, another one in the long tradition of stiff upper-lipped English boarding schools, and later at Oxford, his lifelong friendship with Christopher Isherwood who had been inspired to write the renowned Goodbye to Berlin after Auden's visit to Berlin in 1928, his homosexual dalliances, his desire to drive an ambulance during Spanish Civil War which resulted in one of his celebrated, but subsequently disowned, poems 'Spain' (vehemently denounced by George Orwell who of course was accredited with a deeper understanding of the politics of the Civil War), his growing admiration for socialism in the wake of the rise of fascism in Europe prior to the Second World War and his eventual disillusionment with Communism.

Auden's poetry is widely criticized as a hollow compilation of sublime imagery and flowery writing with little to no depth but Smith, in the tradition of most Auden lovers, defends the sanctity of his work with assertions like the following:-

"'In Praise of Limestone' contributes greatly to the appeal of what he wrote. It is easy on the ear - and ease here has no pejorative implications: the fact that something is easy to listen to does not make it less intellectually significant."

"There are plenty of poets, especially those given to the writing of confessional verse, who are ready to tell us about their particular experience of love. We listen sympathetically, and may indeed be touched or inspired by their insights. But few poets transcend the personal when talking about love. They are talking, really, about how they felt when they were in love; Auden digs far deeper than that. He talks about love and flesh as it can be experienced by all of us - he transcends the specific experience in a particular place and time, to get to the heart of what we are."

Smith also makes a significant point in regard to Auden's disposition as a poet, he was known to acknowledging misrepresentations of facts in his earlier poems instead of quietly hoping for the work in contention to be erased from public memory like the other writers of his time did. He humbly acknowledged whenever he was wrong and was extremely self-critical.

To conclude, this is a fine book to gift to the random Auden devotee and perfect for introducing Auden to a neophyte who knows virtually nothing about the great Anglo-American poet (like myself for instance).
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Insight on McCall-Smith's quote of Auden... 7 octobre 2013
Par Tacomatim - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
A thought provoking quick read that one can glide through with ease. I enjoyed this book as it explained some of the Auden written lines in McCall-Smith's novels from time to time. I have now an appreciation for Auden and for the author's use of the poet's work.
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