The Habit of Art

The Habit of Art

3.75 (176 ratings by Goodreads)
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Auden often said that metre and rhyme led him down unexpected paths to thoughts he wouldn't otherwise have had, and in this respect versification and fornication are not so different.

Benjamin Britten, sailing uncomfortably close to the wind with his new opera, Death in Venice, seeks advice from his former collaborator and friend, W H Auden. During this imagined meeting, their first for twenty-five years, they are observed and interrupted by amongst others their future biographer and a young man from the local bus station.

You are a rent boy. I am a poet. Over the wall lives the Dean of Christ Church. We all have our parts to play.

Alan Bennett's new play is as much about the theatre as it is about poetry or music. It looks at the unsettling desires of two difficult men, and at the ethics of biography. It reflects on growing old, on creativity and inspiration, and on persisting when all passion's spent: ultimately, on the habit of art.

'In the end,' said Auden, 'art is small beer. The really serious things in life are earning one's living and loving one's neighbour.'
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Product details

  • Paperback | 112 pages
  • 124 x 192 x 12mm | 117.93g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 0571255612
  • 9780571255610
  • 206,060

Review quote

"A multi-levelled work that deals with sex, death, creativity, biography and much else besides . . . beautifully written . . . deeply moving." -Michael Billington, "The Guardian ""Bennett the maestro returns with a multi-layered masterpiece . . . hilariously provocative . . . mixes hard-won wisdom about such matters as the meaning of collaboration, the dubious value of biography . . . and flurries of delirious silliness." -Paul Taylor, "The Independent ""Deft, amusing, and so intelligently and generously crafted that it makes you feel clever just watching it . . . "The Habit of Art" is a richly thought-provoking piece about many things, including artistic creation, the vulgarity of biography, sexuality, friendship, the bubble of reputation, but it also has an intriguingly autobiographical feel at times. What sort of artist have I been? Will anything survive?" -Christopher Hart, "The Sunday Times"
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About Alan Bennett

Alan Bennett has been one of our leading dramatists since the success of Beyond the Fringe in the 1960s. His television series Talking Heads has become a modern-day classic, as have many of his works for the stage including Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, The Madness of George III (together with the Oscar-nominated screenplay The Madness of King George), and an adaptation of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. At the National Theatre, London, The History Boys won numerous awards including Evening Standard and Critics' Circle awards for Best Play, an Olivier for Best New Play and the South Bank Award. On Broadway, The History Boys won five New York Drama Desk Awards, four Outer Critics' Circle Awards, a New York Drama Critics' Award, a New York Drama League Award and six Tonys. The Habit of Art opened at the National in 2009; in 2012, People, as well as the two short plays Hymn and Cocktail Sticks, was also staged there. His collection of prose Writing Home was a number one bestseller. Untold Stories won the PEN/Ackerley Prize for autobiography, 2006. Recent works of fiction are The Uncommon Reader and Smut: Two Unseemly Stories. The film The Lady in the Van will be released in November 2015.
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Rating details

176 ratings
3.75 out of 5 stars
5 24% (43)
4 38% (67)
3 29% (51)
2 5% (9)
1 3% (6)
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