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Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 23-24

- By Michael Thurston

Read Parts 20-22 here

“Now I must make amends.”

It is often said (when people are talking of the “Auden group,” those poets who came to prominence with Auden in the Thirties) that MacNeice was the collective’s resident skeptic. Others, you will hear—from Samuel Hynes in his book, The Auden Generation, from Edna Longley in her study of MacNeice, from Robyn Marsack and Beret Strong and Peter MacDonald in chapters on MacNeice, even from Seamus Perry and Mark Ford in their recent London Review of Books podcast episode on MacNeice—flirted with political commitment (Stephen Spender is usually singled out as the most gung-ho enthusiast for movements, but...


Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 20-22

- By Michael Thurston

(Photo: Christmas Rose, Helleborus x hybridus, Winter Jewels “Jade Tiger,” White Flower Farm)

Read Part 19 here

“So much for Christmas”

Vita brevis, ars longa. The week before Christmas finds MacNeice in London’s National Gallery. Outside, movement continues and suggests ephemerality. Inside, “Other worlds persist,” caught and elevated to significance by the artists’ attention, by the achievements of form.

Last March, sensing how things were going and that museum doors would soon be shut, I stole an hour between meetings to duck into the Smith...


Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 19

- By Michael Thurston

(Photo: Diane Diederich Photography)

Read Parts 17-18 here

A clear, cold winter morning dawns and London’s pigeons, night-shift workers, breakfast cookers, and babies are all up and moving. “O what a busy morning,” abuzz with engines, wires, machines, and butchery: “The housewife . . . Watches the cleaver catch the naked / New Zealand sheep between the legs.” Amid the commerce and commotion, MacNeice finds his mind turning back to his breakup, to lost love no longer recognizable as the love into which he had fallen. Time and busyness and the slow erosion...


Autumn Journal on Autumn Journal: 17-18

- By Michael Thurston

(Photo: Aristotle, manuscript miscellany of philosophical writings, mainly texts by Aristotle (Greek) Rome, 1457. Cod. Phil. gr. 64, fol. 8v, Austrian National Library. Austrian National Library, unknown author.)

Read Parts 15-16 here

“monologue / Is the death of language”

The fancy word is “intersubjectivity.” We become the selves we are (to the extent that we are “selves,” but that’s the subject, so to speak, for another blog series altogether) not in or through our isolation but, instead, precisely as we interact with, are perceived by, receive feedback from others. One stream of...

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