An Age of Anxiety: W.H. Auden’s Existential Theology of the 1940s

By Sam Leiva

Auden, as photographed in the 1950s
Auden, as photographed in the 1950s

Born in York, England in 1907, the poet W.H. Auden is celebrated as one of the most accomplished writers of the 20th century. Admired for his vast intellect, unsurpassed virtuosity in verse’s technical forms, and wide–ranging fields of knowledge, Auden found eminence across the Atlantic during his long tenure as a poet. Following the 1930s, an era indelibly marked by the Great Depression, Hitler’s rise to power, and the Spanish Civil War, the 1940s was a time of great national and global crises. As the period brought vast changes to the United States across its social, political, and economic spheres, it also introduced the U.S. to a new, collective fear centered on the existential questions of alienation, authenticity, and the meaning of man’s existence in the modern world. For Auden, this era of conflict and unprecedented transformations called for a new kind of poetry to be written.

Read moreAn Age of Anxiety: W.H. Auden’s Existential Theology of the 1940s