Stephen Spender (1909–1995) was an English poet and essayist. As a young man, he became friends with W.H. Auden, Louis MacNeice, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Christopher Isherwood, a loose collection often referred to as “the Auden Group” or “MacSpaunday.” He published many collections of poems, including The Still Centre and Ruins and Visions, and numerous volumes of nonfiction and other works, including Learning Laughterand Love-Hate Relations.


On Fame and the Writer

The following was given at a meeting organized by Foyles Bookshop in London last spring. Writing in these pages, Robert Craft recently observed: “Next to Auden, the most abiding concern in the Journals is with what Spender sees as a lack of recognition.” This remark surprised me a bit and …


The Assault

by Harry Mulisch, translated by Claire Nicolas White
The note about the author printed on the last page of this novel throws much light on it: “Harry Mulisch…Holland’s most important postwar writer…[was] born in 1927 in Haarlem to a Jewish mother whose family died in the concentration camps, and an Austrian father who was jailed after the war …

B. B. and Company

Mary Berenson: A Self-Portrait from Her Letters and Diaries

edited by Barbara Strachey, edited by Jayne Samuels
A movie about the life of Bernhard (after 1914 known as Bernard) Berenson might bear a resemblance to Citizen Kane, though taking place in much more exalted circumstances. It would be an American story of a man who, emerging from a background of poverty and hardship, moves into a world …

Forster’s Shadow

Selected Letters of E.M. Forster Vol. I: 1879––1920

edited by Mary Lago, edited by P.N. Furbank
Members of my literary generation first met E.M. Forster in the early 1930s. Before this, while we were undergraduates, he was a legend to us. Howards End seemed one of those books that make each reader a unique discoverer of its partly realistic, partly symbolic world. It was a novel …

‘The First Man on Earth’

Kleist: A Biography

by Joachim Maass, translated by Ralph Manheim
One day in June 1940 after reading in the London Times a lyrical account of the invasion of France by beautiful Nazi soldiers—their blue eyes smiling under steel helmets wreathed with wild-flowers, while their tanks were roaring across the green fields—I turned on the radio. The BBC was playing Schubert’s …

Victims of Politics


by Alberto Moravia, translated by William Weaver
Moravia’s latest novel is haunted by German ghosts: Dürer, Kleist, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kafka, and the voice of Hitler, which is heard through loudspeakers. Lucio, the narrator, goes to Anacapri after taking a degree at the University of Munich with a thesis on Heinrich von Kleist. He has brought his German …