New Selected Journals, 1939-1995
With New Selected Journals, 1939-1995, we receive a selection of Stephen Spender’s journals that allow intimate access to a literary icon.
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Private faces in public places
Are wiser and nicer
Than public faces in private places.
W.H. Auden, dedication to Stephen Spender, 1932
Stephen Spender wrote almost a million words of journal entries between his September Journal in 1939 and his death in 1995. In choosing from these voluminous journals for the new edition, the editors have tried to provide a picture of the various lives Spender brought together in autobiographical form.
The earlier 1985 edition of the Journals was overseen by the author, and it privileged his thoughts about poetry – his own and other people’s. The new edition includes the final ten years of Spender’s life and provides access to the more intimate thoughts and feelings of the private man, but equally documents his life as a public intellectual who played a part in shaping the European literary and intellectual culture of his age.
As we look back on the dramatic events of the twentieth century, we find that Spender was involved in many of them: the reconstruction of Germany and the construction of Europe (as Unesco’s first Literary Councillor), the development of the cultural Cold War (as editor of Encounter), the founding of Israel, the anti-Vietnam movement in America. The Journals provide a personal version of sixty turbulent years of the twentieth century, hovering between diary, autobiography and history.
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