[Marxism] The Unknown Citizen

Ralph Johansen mdriscollrj at charter.net
Tue Oct 23 11:25:36 MDT 2018


Michael Meeropol

    Auden was a centennial scholar at Swarthmore the year I graduated
    --- supposedly, he had been a "visitor" there back in the 40s and
    had made quite an impression.  An English Professor at the time
    (1963 maybe), gave a lecture entitled Auden at Swarthmore -- aside
    from being a great poet (I liked "Muse des Beaux Artes" myself) he
    seemed like a heluva character!

    heluva character! For example, in the mid- or late-fifties I was
    part of a packed SRO audience in Wheeler Hall at UC Berkeley who had
    come to hear Auden. There was considerable delay, and rising murmur,
    until Robert Penn Warren, then chair of the English Department,
    emerged from the wings to introduce Auden. He mentioned that they
    had just come from dinner at Penn Warren's home. Then several more
    minutes elapsed until Auden came out, obviously pissed. He fussed
    with some papers on the lighted lectern, started to read and then
    called twice for more light. Wheeler Hall is a comfortable old place
    with an array of props, so quickly several vintage floor lamps
    appeared behind him. He started to read again but he was obviously
    bibulously blind, and incoherent. US Berkeley audiences are not
    forgiving, and quickly the hall was virtually empty. Someone loudly
    whispered, "He's past it." I assumed he meant for the evening and
    not in terms of his career. I wondered. A wasted evening, except for
    memorable spectacle.



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