Saturday, August 25, 2018

His own need to find a way forward in life

From What W.H. Auden Can Do For You by Alexander McCall Smith.
He returned to Christianity, to an idiosyncratic form of Anglo-Catholicism, having been influenced by his extensive theological reading and by his own need to find a way forward in life. He wrote libretti for operas, notably The Rake’s Progress, over which he and his long-term partner, Chester Kallman, collaborated with Igor Stravinsky. He spent summers in Italy and then in Austria, where he bought a house an hour from Vienna. In the United States his home was in St. Mark’s Place, in Greenwich Village, and he lived there, in conditions of famous mess, until he decided to return to Oxford, where he was given a cottage on the grounds of his old college. His last years there were spent in an Oxford that had changed significantly since his own undergraduate days. He was a lonely figure, sometimes sitting alone in a coffee house, untalked to by students who were too shy to do so or who were simply unaware of who this shambling, unkempt figure was. He was seen in Blackwell’s, the famous Oxford bookstore, reading books off the shelf and then replacing them, his clothing covered in cigarette ash and assorted stains.
I do not have it at hand, but will append once located, an interesting piece about the need for structure in one's life. Not just physical structure, but in terms of a worldview such as religion so frequently provides, integrating both mind and heart. Auden's return seems an example of that importance.

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