“Art may spill over from creating a world of language into the dangerous and forbidden task of trying to create a human being.”

I adore that quote.

Edward Mendelson’s essay in the New York Review of Books on W.H. Auden reveals a writer who jumps back, or runs away, as much as he leaps in. When I was a young writer, I did not understand how other young writers of my day put him at the top; I still don’t. But more and more I know why older writers do. Writes Mendelson:

In an age when writers as different as Hemingway and Eliot encouraged their public to admire them as heroic explorers of the mind and spirit, Auden preferred to err in the opposite direction, by presenting himself as less than he was.

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