Auden has long been a central figure in the study of the Anglo-American transatlantic, and it is arguably possible to discern in the range of essays here a persistent and interesting divide in the relative critical estimation of different phases of Auden's career that could be roughly and perhaps unwisely summarized thus: American critics are more inclined to find value in Auden's later work, while some scholars across the Atlantic still tend to view much of his postemigration career with a more skeptical eye ("rebarbatively
quietist" is how one contributor describes later Auden; "smoothly in step with US Cold War propaganda," as another puts it).
His "tight and exclusive nationality" resurfaces in the face of the German language, which soon becomes saturated with the rebarbatively
Teutonic atmosphere of Detsch: "Yet he was uncomfortable in Detsch.
But even though he does shed light on the diversity of his subject, the style is at times rebarbatively
knotty: 'Faced by the oppositions to both modernism and a traditional mimetic, diverted by metafictional fragmentation, it appears fiction retrieves in history and in metaphor the residue of another symbolic mode, a mythic consciousness, that works toward what might be described as a fictional "historical mythopoeism"' (p.