In another essay in The Dyer’s Hand Auden emphasizes that critics of Shakespeare would reveal more about themselves than about Shakespeare, but “(…) perhaps this is the great value of drama of the Shakespearian kind, namely, that whatever he may see taking place on the stage, its final effect on each spectator is a self-revelation” (Auden, 1962, p. 182). As Snyder finds, the self that Auden bought to this Shakesperian mirror was a poet and later in his life, from about the 40s and 50s onwards, a Christian (Snyder, 1983, p. 29). Thus, after his conversion at this time he still needed to figure out its implications on his understanding of art. As Auden pointed out to a friend, The Dyer’s Hand developed in this period and therefore was all about Christianity and Art (Carpenter, 1981, p. 404). In the following I will discuss in how far this search for the (Christian) role of art is addressed by Auden in the essay The Virgin and The Dynamo.
W. H. Auden’s essay The Virgin and the Dynamo is part of the book W. H. Auden. The Dyer’s Hand and other essays (1962). The general theme, as addressed both in the introduction and the essay in particular is on the role of art, or more specifically of poetry. Before discussing various aspects of this essay I first will shortly elaborate on more general points of the book as posed in the introduction of the book; in doing so the framework in which the essay is to be understood is highlighted.
Dyer's Hand and Other Essays by W.H