by W. H. Auden

Princeton University Press, $22.95, 200 pages

As a social worker, I know a thing or two about anxiety but hadn’t a clue after reading The Age of Anxiety: A Baroque Eclogue by W.H. Auden. This type of reading is best suited for poets or a literary class, not for pleasure. However, I recommend this as a must read next to Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Young. The meter is fantastically unique and historical – it speaks naturally but is high in interpretation. The plot was written during WWII; its characters facing the holocaust. It therefore captures the anxiety experienced during the time… with a focus on “meeting the maker” – an experience “subject to fate”, “given God’s will”.

The read comes across not as life subject to fate, but the struggle between dualities: life and death, good and evil, true self and false self. It must be the personal experience rather than that of the horrors seen during the holocaust. I felt less anxious compared to the inevitable sadness that comes with death, but perhaps that sadness is for the living; I don’t know, perhaps to live IS anxiety.  It is a “don’t read” unless you expect to think with this one. Auden fares much better with his interpretation. This takes a high intellect and appreciation of fine poetry. Be ready for the challenge.

Sarafina Botechelli