This chapter describes how Auden followed no critical school whatsoever, proving that the occasional character of his criticism was deliberate. In his brief preface to The Dyer's Hand, he wrote, “A poem must be a closed system, but there is something, in my opinion, lifeless, even false, about systematic criticism.” He told Alan Ansen that he did not write out his lectures on Shakespeare at the New School in New York in 1946–47 because “criticism is live conversation.” Much of the power of Auden's critical writing, and of the pleasure it gives, is due to its embodiment of these beliefs. At the same time, his criticism is deeply informed by his faith and is often an explicit testament to it.
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