Typed Letter Signed W. H. Auden to Stella Musulin 1966-02-03

AuthorAuden, W. H.
  • Mayer, Sandra
  • Frühwirth, Timo
  • Grigoriou, Dimitra
PublisherAustrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage, Vienna 2021
Source Information
  • State Collections of Lower Austria
  • Stella Musulin (Depot)
  • St. Pölten
  • 1966-02-03
  • 77 St. Mark's Place
  • TEI Logo
  • RDF metadata
IIIF Endpoint(s)
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 .

Sent at:
  • United States General Post Office
Sent from:
  • New York City
Sent at:
  • 1966-02-03
Received by:
Received at:
  • Fridau

77 St Mark's Place
New York City 3
New York IOOO3


Die Baronin
   Stella Musulin
      32OO Obergrafendorf

77 St Mark's Place
New  York City 3
New York IOOO3
Feb 3rd,I966

                   Dear Stella:

       Many thanks for your nice long letter. Stephen has a genius for
    subtle misrepresentation. "Serious insistence on unseriousness'
    telescopes two distinct convictions of mine,falsifying both.

     I) I believe it to be a serious moral error when an artist overestimates
        the importance of art and,by implication,of himself. One must admit
        that the political history of Europe,with the same horrors,
        would be what it has been,if Dante,Shakespeare,Goethe,Titian,
        Mozart,et al,had never existed.

    2) I believe that the only way in which,to-day at any rate,one can
       speak seriously about serious matters(the alternative
       is silence) is comically. I am surprised to hear from you that
       Jews find this hard to accept. I have enormously admired - and been
      influenced by - the tradition of Jewish humor. More than any other
      people,surely,they have seen in serious matters,that is to say,human
      suffering, the contradictions of human existence,and the relation
      between man and God,occasions for humorous expression.

       e.g,: "If the rich could hire other people to die for them,the poor
     could make a wonderful living", or "Truth rests with God alone,and
     a little bit with me",or "God will provide - ah,if only He would till
     He does so."

  So! you encountered the one-whose-name-we-never-mention. Why Chester should
 have been so foolish as  to invite him to a party,I cannot imagine. If he
is to be seen at all,he must be seen alone. Incidentally,next time you see
Chester,scold him a) for not writing to me b) for not answering Harrison's

 All well here.except for a leaking kitchen roof. No doubt you read about
our Black-Out and Transit Strike.(My typewriter is on the blink,hence the
hiatuses.)  A friend of mine who teaches schyzophrenics,has a seventeen
year old girl who is interested in poetry. Asked what poets she liked,she
mentioned me. "I happen to know him quite well",said my friend. To which the
girl in astonishment:"You mean to say,he's still alive!".

  Expect to get back to Kirchstetten about April 20th.

                     much love and greetings to son and mum-in-law



In his W. H. Auden: A Biography, Humphrey Carpenter reports that "[i]n about 1968 Auden began to look round for another composer with whom to write an opera" (428). Peter Heyworth arranged a meeting with composer Harrison Birtwistle, but nothing came of the intended collaboration. In a 2014 interview, Birtwistle recalls that "[h]e was once approached by WH Auden, who wanted to write an operatic version of Love's Labour's Lost with him", but refused. Auden and Kallman eventually realized the project in collaboration with Nicolas Nabokov.

External Evidence: ph_010