Books: Farewell to Fantasy

FOR THE TIME BEING—W. H. Auden—Random House ($2).

In 1938 Chinese soldiers blinked when a tall, ungainly, towheaded young Briton with bright hazel eyes and an Oxford voice introduced himself with a visiting card phonetically inscribed "Au Dung" and wandered through battle areas discussing the poetry of Robert Bridges with his companion. Novelist Christopher Isherwood ("Y Hsiao Wu"). In 1936 Icelanders watched the same outlander read the works of Lord Byron while jogging through their bleak countryside on a pony. In 1937 he worked as a censor in the Spanish Loyalist Government. In...

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