I have been a big fan of poetry and literature ever since I was a teenager. And I had always heard of the book “The Age of Anxiety” from other poetry enthusiasts like me but it wasn’t till last year that I got a chance to read it.
As I started reading the book, I realized that it was not a collection of poems as I thought it would be , instead this is a book length poem, aptly called eclogue which is set during the times of World War II.
It is more of a drama and less of a poem the way I look at it. It has been divided into different sections and the one I liked the most is “The Seven Ages of Man”. I have been a fan of Auden from the time I laid my hands on this wonderful book written by him. Such work are rare gems and the author has manged to do this unusually good work astonishingly well.
I would call it a classic amongst all classics!
A classic read
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Oct 3, 2018
I don’t how many people these days have even come across this book but it is one of the best works done by the author W.H.Auden for which he won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.
There are different ways in which people look at this poem but if you ask what I think, I would say it is just not about a generation’s unique devastation or the struggle for meaning after World War II; it is more so about the movement of people in the path of alienation and reconnection through different stages of life.
The poem is relevant in today’s times as well because every generation has its own equivalents and it is a must thing for every generation to rediscover the disappointments and dissatisfaction endured by the previous generations.
Right now I am don’t think I am completely ready to perceive all that it has to give. So, I would revisit it at least once in every age of my life.
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 29, 2018
This Eclogue has maintained splendid energy throughout and at times the reader might feel sympathetic towards four inebriated personas who attain predominance in a pub.
The author concludes on note where he expresses that external journeys are never a pre-requisite to obtain an anchorage on the greatest values in life. In his opinion, it is present at all times, at a stone’s throw distance to everyone but not all are ready to recognize or see them.
The book has brought about a sea change in the way I look at and perceive things. I would re-read it once every few years and re-learn what I have already learnt from this book at every stage of my life.
Loved the new version
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 25, 2018
A few months back, I happened to come across the new critical edition of W.H.Auden’s book length poem, The Age of Anxiety. This edition is elegant in its own way with an extensive new introduction and it is the detailed gloss that I loved the most as it conveys the deeper meanings with a light touch.
This edition has made things easier for the readers as it gives them proper aids to understand what is written in every single paragraph of the poem.
The poem revolves around 4 people who are sitting in a bar on Third Avenue Street in New York City when the second world war is going on. Each character depending on his nature is given a prose introduction before the poem starts.
For instance, the character Emble is described as one who is always anxious about himself and his future and that haunts him most of the time. He lacks confidence and is ashamed of himself.
I found the poem to be elusive and demanding and it resists all kinds of useless interpretations and made reading it a matter of complete pleasure.
A great read
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Sep 9, 2018
The Age of Anxiety was recommended to me by a friend of mine when I told her that I was looking for a read that was written during the World War II times.
I have always had keen interest in history and love to read those book that gives me an insight into how things happened then and the state of affairs of different happening in various eras.
When I started reading this piece, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for; a perfect blend of history and literature. I couldn’t have asked for more. It has precisely described the psychic world after World War II and impact of the war on western culture.
The detailed introduction on the book by Alan Jacobs is worth mentioning as it has been really beneficial as it helped me gain a deeper insight on the contents of the piece.
A good work of literature
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 28, 2018
I can read this eclogue any number of times I want because every time I read it, I see something new that the book has to offer. And I would greatly recommend others also to do so in order to help the book out from the shadows where it has been deteriorating all this while.
And for those pursuing literature, I would say a copy is a must have and a must read. There is so much the book has to offer and no matter how many times you read it, you don’t seem to get enough of it.
I can surely guarantee that it something that could give you a new perspective to life every single time you go through it.
The experience is priceless and I cannot totally describe it in words.
A book of great combinations
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 18, 2018
The Age of Anxiety is one of the best poems written in the 20th century and it is one of the author’s greatest works too for which he won the Pulitzer prize. Personally, I respect the poem more than I love it.
The poem is a mix of genres and it is many things at the same time. It is a philosophical experiment, landscape poem, an account of events that happened during World War II, a mystical treatise and a medieval dream.
I have finished reading The Age of Anxiety twice and I think I will return to it as much as possible. It is an essential read for all literature enthusiasts.
A quest for so many things in life
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 10, 2018
The Age of Anxiety is a very long poem, longer than one can imagine, a book long to be precise and it has been divided into 6 parts and is written in an alliterative verse in a modern version of Anglo Saxon English.
If you ask me to describe it in shortest way possible, it is a man’s quest to find substance and identity in a world that suddenly underwent major changes because of the war.
I found his writing to be extremely beautiful and at times very challenging.
But at the same time, is the most underrated of all his works and I am surely going to read it again when I have enough and more time to sit and ponder about the poem.
Takes you back in time
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Aug 4, 2018
The poem is set in a war time bar in New York city during World War II (although the book was written after the war) and the author introduces four characters, a Canadian airforce pilot, a navy man, a buyer for a departmental store and a shipping clerk.
The poem describes how the times are such that everybody is seen as a shady character or a displaced person. The author beautifully describes anxiety as something that has cropped up from the overpowering nature of war and how it interferes with basic human rights and ability to live with a free mind during the war time era.
It is a must read for all in order to re-live those ages in the most authentic way possible.
Loved the style of writing
- 4/5, 4 out of 5, reviewed Jul 24, 2018
The book was on my to read list from the time I became interested in medieval times English alliterative verse. I think the style of writing the author has used is rarely found in modern English and it is one very long unique poem.
The Age of Anxiety is about an internal quest with four isolated people sitting in a bar, lost in their own thoughts and when you look closer, you see that all of them are trapped by hopeless melancholy because of the things that were happening around them due to the war.
It was also interesting to note that the author has related anxiety with loneliness and he seems to have done a lot of research on human acting and behaving as social animals.
One should definitely at least make an effort to read this book for the in depth mix of emotions that it has.
Whenever I travel, I make sure I take the hard copy of this book with me as it gives me a lot of time and the perfect surroundings to immerse myself in the book and float back to wartime.
The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue
When it was first published in 1947, The Age of Anxiety--W. H. Auden's last, longest, and most ambitious book-length poem--immediately struck a powerful chord, capturing the imagination of the cultural moment that it diagnosed and named. Beginning as a conversation among four strangers in a barroom on New York's Third Avenue, Auden's analysis of Western culture during the Second World War won the Pulitzer Prize and inspired a symphony by Leonard Bernstein as well as a ballet by Jerome Robbins. Yet reviews of the poem were sharply divided, and today, despite its continuing fame, it is unjustly neglected by readers.
This volume--the first annotated, critical edition of the poem--introduces this important work to a new generation of readers by putting it in historical and biographical context and elucidating its difficulties. Alan Jacobs's introduction and thorough annotations help today's readers understand and appreciate the full richness of a poem that contains some of Auden's most powerful and beautiful verse, and that still deserves a central place in the canon of twentieth-century poetry.