Letters to Christopher: Stephen Spender's letters to Christopher Isherwood, 1929-1939 : with "The line of the branch"--two Thirties journals

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About the author (1980)

The youngest of the group that included W. H. Auden, C. Day Lewis, and Louis MacNeice, Stephen Spender was born in London and educated at Oxford University. He produced his most memorable verse in the 1930s, when his leftist orientation led him briefly to join the Communist party. Coeditor of Horizon magazine before World War II, he served in the National Fire Service during the war. He worked as an editor of Encounter magazine from 1953 to 1967, resigning after the revelation that the magazine had relied on funding from the American CIA. Since World War II, Spender has produced more prose than poetry, including the fine autobiography World within World (1951) and the valuable literary analysis The Struggle of the Modern (1963). After his first visit to the United States in 1947 to see his old friend Auden, Spender began to spend half the year in Britain and the other half abroad, often in the United States on visiting appointments at universities. In 1970 he was appointed professor of English literature at the University of London. Spender's poetry lacks both the wit and quietly authoritative tone of Auden's. Instead, he takes a more questioning, self-divided stance, in which his modern diction and subjects often serve a romantic preoccupation with the self. Spender's prose shows him the most proromantic of his circle. Even in the socially engaged verse of the 1930s, Spender often dramatized individual yearnings or projected them onto only apparently objective social circumstances. He has found his true themes in relationships, whether of individuals or of groups. A gifted critic, his recent work has included studies of T. S. Eliot, the 1930s poets, and the sculpt or Henry Moore. In 1962, he was made a CBE (Commander, Order of the British Empire).

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