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Stephen Spender: A Literary Life

Stephen Spender: A Literary Life

Hardback

By (author) Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature John Sutherland

$75.90

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  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Format: Hardback | 656 pages
  • Dimensions: 166mm x 236mm x 50mm | 1,102g
  • Publication date: 6 January 2005
  • Publication City/Country: Oxford, England
  • ISBN 10: 0195178165
  • ISBN 13: 9780195178166
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations
  • Sales rank: 583,931

Product description

One of the leading poets and cultural icons of the 20th century, Stephen Spender was a prominent writer, literary critic, and social commentator--and close friend of some of the best-know creative talents of his day. Now, in this penetrating biography, John Sutherland paints a vivid portrait of Spender and of the glittering literary world of which he was a part, drawing on exclusive access to Spender's private papers. This briskly paced, compelling narrative illuminates the vast range of Spender's literary, political, and artistic interests. We follow Spender from childhood to his days at Oxford (where he first became friends with W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, and Isaiah Berlin); to his meteoric rise as poet in the 1930s, while still in his twenties; to his later years as cultural statesman, at home in both Britain and America. We witness many of the century's defining moments through Spender's eyes: the Spanish Civil War, World War II, the Cold War, the 1960s sexual revolution, and the rise of America as a cultural force. And along the way, we are introduced to many of Spender's accomplished friends, including Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Cecil Day-Lewis, Joseph Brodsky, Lucian Freud, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, and T.S. Eliot. Perhaps most important, Sutherland has been granted exclusive access to Spender's private papers by his wife Natasha Spender. Thus he is able to provide a far more intimate look at the poet's personal life than has appeared in previous biographies. Featuring 36 unpublished photographs, Stephen Spender: A Literary Life throws light not only on this supremely gifted writer, but also on the literary and social history of the twentieth century.

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Author information

John Sutherland is Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature at University College London and he is also Visiting Professor at the California Institute of Technology. He writes a regular column for the Guardian and contributes reviews to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post.

Review quote

"John Sutherland has written a superlative biography. He has combined tact with a straightforwardness like Spender's own. His study also challenges the misconceptions that have surrounded Spender since the 1960s. Sutherland emphasizes that he was not like the other poets of his time with whom he is so often grouped. Spender is--and I think will remain--very much his own man and his own poet."--John Bayley, New Statesman "Masterly.... Vibrant, humane, anecdote-packed."--John Carey, Sunday Times (London) "His lucid and affectionate biography reminds us of the astonishing range of Spender's literary and extra-literary achievements. And it traces the Spenderian manner--the holy foolishness, relentless networking, stubborn liberalism, and saintly forbearance--back to its roots."--Blake Morrison, Guardian "It is a model of its kind: thoughtful, knowledgeable, and thoroughly engaged, both with Spender and the landscapes through which he moved." --D. J. Taylor, The Independent