The publication of W.H. Auden's complete poems is the summer's major literary event.
Princeton University Press' "The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Poems, Volume I: 1927-1939" and "The Complete Works of W.H. Auden: Poems: Volume II:1940-1973" gather Auden's best-known poems as well as those never published, giving a complete history of each composition, including Auden's at times misguided corrections.
The volumes, which cost $60 each, include each of Auden's published collections, along with unfinished poems from his notebooks.
Edited by Auden's literary executor, Edward Mendelson, the poetry volumes finish Princeton's publication of Auden's complete works, including prose.
Washington Post critic Michael Dirda in an admiring review Thursday praises Auden's astonishing literary brilliance exhibited in Auden's poetry as it changed throughout his life.
From his early work inspired by T.S. Eliot to the emergence of his original voice to his more colloquial later poems, Auden displayed a perfect ear for English rhythms.
As Dirda says, the new collections show the entire range of Auden's achievement, supplanting the paperback edition of Auden's selected poems, also edited by Mendelson.
The two volumes will allow Auden lovers to trace the course of his poetic imagination, from youth to old age. Rediscovering well-known poems and discovering unfamiliar ones will give readers a deep understanding of Auden's work. Princeton University Press has given a rare gift to readers.