The Quotable Auden

From W.H. Auden's Phoenix articles:

"Fellow Irresponsibles, follow me." ("Student Government - Or Bombs?" March 21, 1944.) return to page

"When I am Dean of Men, which, if there were any justice in this world, I should long ago have become..." ("Student Government - Or Bombs?" March 21, 1944.) return to page

"What is good theatre? An excuse for carrying on charmingly in public. And which of us doesn't long to do that?" ("Auden Calls 'Night' Fun But Not Art." April 13, 1943.) return to page


Quoted by Charles Osborne in W.H. Auden: The Life of a Poet (NY: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979):

"A professor is one who talks in someone else's sleep." (p. 332) return to page

"I think that at least one requirement for a lecturer is that he should have something to say." (p. 332) return to page


Quoted by Humphrey Carpenter in W.H. Auden, A Biography (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981):

"My seminar on Romanticism starts tomorrow. Quakers or no Quakers, I shall serve bread and cheese and beer at four o'clock." (from a letter to Ursula Niebuhr, p. 319) return to page

"Looking at old work I keep finding ideas which one had no business to see already at that age, and a style of treatment which one should have outgrown years before." (from a letter to Louise Bogan, p. 330) return to page


From a question-and-answer session with visiting professor Brendan Kennelly's class (1971), transcribed in the College Bulletin (May 1972):

"I hear it's terrible now, that honors seminars meet in the evening and go forever." return to page

"When I was a student, contemporary literature was something we looked at for ourselves and I think we were reasonably informed. We wouldn't have dreamt of going to a teacher and saying, 'We want to have a course.'" return to page

"The thing one gets tired of - they may be quite good - is the old warhorses, things you find in anthologies and refuse to read." return to page

"I am very puzzled when they ask for student participation because later in life, when one sins, one has to sit on committees. If they knew what it is like to sit on committees, how very boring it is...Thank God when I was a student nobody ever asked me to be on a committee!" return to page

"I object very much to manuscript books because what you want people to read are the final results and when they see all those mistakes you made, they think, 'Oh, I could have done that as well.'" return to page


From The Dyer's Hand and Other Essays (NY: Random House, 1962):

"As readers, most of us, to some degree, are like those urchins who pencil mustaches on the faces of girls in advertisements." (p. 4) return to page


From a letter to Fritz Klees of the Swarthmore English department (May 25, 1964):

"There is nothing I should like better than to stay with you when I am in Swarthmore and hear all the gossip." return to page


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