W.H. Auden: towards a postmodern poetics by R. Emig

By R. Emig

This learn of Auden's entire poetry and performs reads them at the side of an important twentieth-century techniques, modernism and postmodernism. an in depth research of Auden's writings indicates their engagement with and eventual rejection of modernism, with its nostalgia for misplaced certainties and makes an attempt at renewed wholeness. It demonstrates that questions of the self relating to itself, others and truths require solutions which are dicy and infrequently bring about the sacrifice of identification and that means. but rather than one other barren region, Auden's works create an beautiful optimism out of wide awake failure. They recommend the popularity of limits, admit the necessity for others with out trying to dominate them, and settle for trust as a necessity instead of a sure bet. most significantly, they increase a really topical moral place out in their experiments: a problem to the person to behave responsibly within the face of a lack of promises, guidance and truths.

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Its protagonist, ‘the trained spy’, is already caught in a trap, that of ‘the old tricks’. Training and tricks are once more intimately linked with communication, conventions, and language. As we have already noticed, there is no satisfaction to be found in the textuality of the poems either, since they are devoid of stable signifieds. Auden’s early poems do not attempt to settle down in the imagination (as, for instance, Yeats’s early poems attempt to do in their fairy-tale imagery). The uncomfortable borderline position is compulsory.

The last station of the quest consequently takes Alan and the dog to the aptly named Nineveh Hotel, a place with all the trappings of a Babylonian society on the brink of collapse. A cabaret is performed, in which a nationalistic anthem (cunningly entitled ‘Rhondda Moon’ and thereby evoking industrial decline rather than patriotic pride) is followed by a self-critical song and dance act, the Nineveh Girls, that stresses the objectification of women in entertainment. To complement the picture of a culture about to die of oversaturation, a figure called ‘Destructive Desmond’ then ruins a Rembrandt painting for the cheering audience.

The play emphasises this further by adding to the scenes on stage some in the boxes to the left and right. In the right box Mr and Mrs A, representatives of lower-middle-class Englishness, enact their dreary daily routines, into which eventually the story of the ascent of F6 enters via the mass media. The story is further mediated by the public voices situated in the box on the left. From there, an announcer first provides the public view of events; eventually Lord Stagmantle and Lady Isabel add their Establishment voices.

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