William Empson by John Haffenden
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William Empson
By John Haffenden

William Empson

Against the Christians Against the Christians Volume 2

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Format: Paperback

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William Empson by John Haffenden

Book Description

Following the acclaimed first volume, Among the Mandarins , this is the second and concluding volume of the authorized biography of William Empson, one of the foremost poets and literary critics of the twentieth century. Against the Christians begins during the Second World War and follows Empson's turbulent years of writing wartime propaganda for the BBC. As Chinese Editor, he organised broadcasts to China and propaganda programmes for the Home Service, during which time his friends and colleagues included the prickly George Orwell. The effectiveness of Empson's work for the BBC provoked the Nazi propagandist Hans Fritzsche to call him a 'curly-headed Jew' - a charge which gave him enormous satisfaction. In 1947 he returned to China, where he was caught up in the Communist siege of the Peking and witnessed Mao Tse-tung's triumphant entry. 'I was there for the honeymoon between the universities and the communists; we were being kept up to the mark rather firmly.' He saw 'the dragooning of independent thought and the hysteria of the confession meetings'. In the late 1940s he also taught in the USA, where he relished the irony of his situation. 'My position here really seems to me very dramatic; there can be few other people in the world who are receiving pay simultaneously and without secrecy from the Chinese Communists, the British Socialists, and the capitalist Rockefeller machine.' From 1953 to 1971 he held the Chair of English Literature at Sheffield, where he engaged more vigorously than ever before in public controversy, being driven by a desire to correct the wrong-headed orthodoxies of modern literary criticism - most notably 'neo-Christianity'. He acquired massive publicity for his views on the wickedness of Christianity when he published Milton's God in 1961: 'The poem is wonderful because it is an awful warning. The effort of reconsidering Milton's God, who makes the poem so good just because he is so sickeningly bad, is a basic one for the European mind.' Haffenden presents a full account of the work on Milton, along with analyses of Empson's many other writings on subjects including Marlowe, Donne, Marvell, and Coleridge, and The Structure of Complex Words (1951). In a full and candid study of the public and private Empson, John Haffenden enables the reader to understand one of the most gifted, eccentric, witty, and controversial figures of our age - a giant of modern literature and criticism.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780199539925
ISBN-10: 0199539928
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 154mm x 47mm)
Pages: 824
Imprint: Oxford University Press
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 22-Jan-2009
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Other Editions...


Books By Author John Haffenden

Letters of T. S. Eliot by John Haffenden Letters of T. S. Eliot, Hardback (February 2016)

Despairing of his volatile, unstable marriage, T S Eliot, at 44, resolves to put an end to his eighteen-year union with Vivien Haigh-Wood Eliot. This book offers a vivid and personal documentation of T S Eliot's most crucial years, both in his private and public life.

W. H. Auden by John Haffenden W. H. Auden, Paperback (March 2013)

This set comprises of 40 volumes covering nineteenth and twentieth century European and American authors. These volumes will be available as a complete set, mini boxed sets (by theme) or as individual volumes. This second set compliments the first 68 volume set of Critical Heritage published by Routledge in October 1995.

William Empson by John Haffenden William Empson, Paperback (January 2009)

John Haffenden's acclaimed biography of William Empson (1906-1984), the foremost English literary critic of the twentieth century, is now available in paperback. An authoritative and compelling account and the first of two volumes exploring his remarkable life and work.

Selected Letters of William Empson by John Haffenden Selected Letters of William Empson, Paperback (January 2009)

William Empson is one of the foremost writers and critics of the twentieth century. This correspondence shows him working out his ideas and gives the fullest possible picture of his robust interactions with many other prominent writers, including the likes of F. R. Leavis, Helen Gardner, Frank Kermode, Christopher Norris, and I. A. Richards.

» View all books by John Haffenden

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