From one of the great modern writers, the acclaimed lectures in which he draws on a lifetime of experience to take the measure of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets
"W. H. Auden, poet and critic, will conduct a course on Shakespeare at the New School for Social Research beginning Wednesday. Mr. Auden . . . proposes to read all Shakespeare's plays in chronological order." So the New York Times reported on September 27, 1946, giving notice of a rare opportunity to hear one of the century's great poets discuss at length one of the greatest writers of all time. Reconstructed by Arthur Kirsch, these lectures offer remarkable insights into Shakespeare's plays and sonnets while also adding immeasurably to our understanding of Auden.
"Auden's lectures on Shakespeare are a marvelous blend of steady, patient intelligence and stunning insight—spirited, free-thinking, resourceful, unintimidated, liberated from the air of treacly piety, and very, very intelligent."—Stephen Greenblatt
"A remarkable achievement."—Frank Kermode, London Review of Books
"The finest [book] by any English poet on the subject since (and I am not forgetting Coleridge) Dr. Johnson."—Lachlan MacKinnon, Daily Telegraph
"In every way, Kirsch has produced a model of useful scholarship. . . . To know Auden's work well is to acquire a liberal education. These lectures on Shakespeare are a good place to start."—Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World
"For anyone who has ever resolved in vain to sit down and read right through Shakespeare, this at last is the volume to help fulfil that resolution. . . . [M]asterly."—Christopher Murray, Irish Times