What WH Auden Can Do For You By Alexander McCall Smith (Princeton, £13.95)
Wystan Hugh Auden was a meticulous poet but a very messy man. Alexander McCall Smith recalls the only time he saw Auden reading at the University of Edinburgh. There was the great man, reciting his luminous lines from memory; and there was the “sartorial disaster, wearing a stained and ash-spattered suit and battered carpet slippers,” his fly-buttons conspicuously undone, shambolic but approachable and endearing.
For McCall Smith, writing about “the greatest literary discovery” of his life is a messy task too, involving not just commentary on his…
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