November 30, 2020

A lecture by Boris Aronstein: “Wystan Auden: a poet as a language-sustaining instrument”

On November 27, founder and president of TechInput Group of Companies, visiting professor at the Moscow State University, the National Research University Higher School of Economics and the New Economic School, as well as several US universities, publisher of a number of bilingual US magazines, and literary translator Boris Aronstein met with the readership of the Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature where he gave a lecture titled: “Wystan Auden: a poet as a language-sustaining instrument”, that lecture being part of a series of lectures on translation of English fiction.

“A philosopher behind the mask of a poet”, “the transatlantic Horace”, “a minister of infinity”. These are some of the comments which Wystan Auden has been awarded at different times by poets and translators alike. Indeed, Wystan Hugh Auden is the last of the English poets who could by right lay claim to the title “the great”. What is so striking about his poetry is that detachment of consciousness and the paradoxical take on pretty conventional things.

Yet the most notable opinion of Auden’s work came from Joseph Brodsky: “Auden has had an overwhelming influence on contemporary American poetry. He is literally the father of the so-called school of ‘confessional poetry”, all of the poets representing it are truly Auden’s offspring, so to speak, his spiritual, or maybe even more literal, children. But that does not seem to occur to anyone! And each time you reveal to the students who in fact is the begetter of their cult heroes… you open the doors of a genuine treasury for them”.

“In his poetry, Auden approaches the existential question of which came first: – the Poet or Poetry (“A poet as a poetry-sustaining instrument”). The question that was taken by Brodsky to a whole new level (“Poetry as a language-sustaining instrument”), resulting in ultimate sublimation into a formula that is no less epic than the law of conservation of energy itself – Poet is an instrument of . Yet, for all that, Auden’s poetry is as transparent as water, urging one to plunge into fast swimming (Boris Aronstein).

Online lecture is available here

Margarita Rudomino All-Russia State Library for Foreign Literature is a federal library specializing in literature in foreign languages. Back in 1921, it was started as a Neophilologica library. 

A lecture by Boris Aronstein:  “Wystan Auden: a poet as a language-sustaining instrument”