The Poet & the Baroness
For long periods in history, the Austrian capital found itself on the geographical edge of western civilisation. Yet from the 18th century on, Vienna has been a vibrant centre of European culture. This city is the scene of the formidable meeting of the two outstanding intellectuals that are at the core of this book.
The warm relationship between W.H. Auden, the celebrated British-American poet (1907–1973), and his fellow expatriate, the Welsh-Austrian journalist, translator and writer Stella Musulin (1915–1996) lasted while Auden resided in the nearby small town of Kirchstetten starting in 1958. It was here that the poet was laid to rest in the autumn of 1973. This book is based on the unpublished letters of Auden to Musulin and her private journals.
The study of this inspiring material yields new insights into Auden’s last, prolific, creative period and underscores the ‘Austrian Auden.’ In addition, Michael O’Sullivan pays tribute to the closest ‘Austrian’ friend of the poet. Baroness Stella von Musulin was an intellectual whose two books for Faber & Faber are acknowledged as classics: Vienna in the Age of Metternich and Austria: People & Landscape (with a foreword by Auden). The author situates the close relationship of two individuals in the context of Austria’s complex political, social, and cultural history in the Cold War years.
I. Discovering Auden: A Personal Journey
II. Funeral Blues
III. Leaving the Mezzogiorno. Finding Home
V. Stella’s Journals and Auden’s Letters
The Years in Austria