In 1937, W.H. Auden (b. York) and Louis MacNeice (b. Belfast), published their co-authored Letters from Iceland, “the most unorthodox travel book ever written” (Daily Mail). Less an account of their actual journey undertaken the previous year, than a mock-heroic model of collaborative practice, Auden describes Letters from Iceland as a “collage”—“a form that’s large enough to swim in.” Playful in spirit and parodic in intention, these verse epistles, absurd tourist notes and personal correspondence combine to produce a non-fictional text that refracts the poets’ anxieties about the imminent collapse of Europe. In a foreword to the 1965 edition, W.H. Auden explained: “though writing in a ‘holiday’ spirit, its authors were all the time conscious of a threatening horizon to their picnic—world-wide unemployment, Hitler growing every day more powerful and a world-war more inevitable.” This panel seeks to remodel, and reflect on, the conditions of this collaboration.
Published by Selina Guinness
I am a writer and lecturer in English literature at IADT, Dun Laoghaire. I conduct writing workshops on a freelance basis. The Crocodile by the Door, my memoir about life on a family sheep farm in the Dublin mountains, was shortlisted for the UK Costa Book Awards and the BGE Irish Book Awards. It is published by Penguin. View all posts by Selina Guinness