Typed Letter Signed W. H. Auden to Stella Musulin 1966-02-03
Auden, W. H.
  • Mayer, Sandra
  • Frühwirth, Timo
Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Vienna 2021
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Cite this Source (MLA 9th Edition)
Andorfer Peter, Elsner Daniel, Frühwirth Timo, Grigoriou Dimitra, Mayer Sandra, Mendelson Edward and Neundlinger Helmut. Auden Musulin Papers: A Digital Edition of W. H. Auden's Letters to Stella Musulin. Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Austrian Academy of Sciences, 2022, amp.acdh.oeaw.ac.at .
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0001 W.H.Auden
0002 77 St Mark's Place
0003 New York City 3
0004 New York IOOO3
0005 U.S.A.

0006 Air-Mail

0007 Die Baronin
0008    Stella Musulin

0009      Fridau
0010       32OO Obergrafendorf
0011         N.Ö.
0012          Austria

0013 77 St Mark's Place
0014 New  York City 3
0015 New York IOOO3

0016 Feb 3rd,I966

0017                    Dear Stella:
0018        Many thanks for your nice long letter. Stephen has a genius for
0019     subtle misrepresentation. "Serious insistence on unseriousness'
0020     telescopes two distinct convictions of mine,falsifying both.
0021      I) I believe it to be a serious moral error when an artist overestimates
0022         the importance of art and,by implication,of himself. One must admit
0023         that the political history of Europe,with the same horrors,
0024         would be what it has been,if Dante,Shakespeare,Goethe,Titian,
0025         Mozart,et al,had never existed.
0026     2) I believe that the only way in which,to-day at any rate,one can
0027        speak seriously about serious matters(the alternative
0028        is silence) is comically. I am surprised to hear from you that
0029        Jews find this hard to accept. I have enormously admired - and been
0030       influenced by - the tradition of Jewish humor. More than any other
0031       people,surely,they have seen in serious matters,that is to say,human
0032       suffering, the contradictions of human existence,and the relation
0033       between man and God,occasions for humorous expression.
0034        e.g,: "If the rich could hire other people to die for them,the poor
0035      could make a wonderful living", or "Truth rests with God alone,and
0036      a little bit with me",or "God will provide - ah,if only He would till
0037      He does so."
0038   So! you encountered the one-whose-name-we-never-mention. Why Chester should
0039  have been so foolish as  to invite him to a party,I cannot imagine. If he
0040 is to be seen at all,he must be seen alone. Incidentally,next time you see
0041 Chester,scold him a) for not writing to me b) for not answering Harrison's
0042 cable.
0043  All well here.except for a leaking kitchen roof. No doubt you read about
0044 our Black-Out and Transit Strike.(My typewriter is on the blink,hence the
0045 hiatuses.)  A friend of mine who teaches schyzophrenics,has a seventeen
0046 year old girl who is interested in poetry. Asked what poets she liked,she
0047 mentioned me. "I happen to know him quite well",said my friend. To which the
0048 girl in astonishment:"You mean to say,he's still alive!".
0049   Expect to get back to Kirchstetten about April 20th.
0050                      much love and greetings to son and mum-in-law
0051 Wystan.