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This report is taken from PN Review 207, Volume 39 Number 1, September - October 2012.

He Didn't Actually Do It, Did He? Frank Kuppner
I vaguely remember – well, these days I only vaguely remember more or less everything – but I do remember vaguely how, in late 1998, just as I was beginning a rather blissful three-year spell as Writer-in-Residence at Edinburgh University, I chanced upon a second-hand copy of Conversations With Auden, a brief collection of that slightly Great Man’s obiter dicta, jotted down by one of the students who had got to know him while he was teaching in some or other prestigious American institution of higher learning during the late 1940s. (Such, at any rate, is how I remember it. I myself am jotting the present fairly languid confession down to help dignify with something at least loosely resembling honest work an otherwise far too idle stay in an idyllic retreat somewhere between Moscow and Alexandria where I have – thank God – no access whatsoever to any of the necessary reference materials; and thus have a perfect excuse, if anything else on Earth is perfect, for relying entirely and no doubt rather irresponsibly on such powers of memory as I might yet have managed to keep hold of, even if only just. (Right-o, chaps. Proceed with your own retreat by and large regardless! And do please forgive me for interrupting. It won’t happen again.))

I got through this book of Conversations quickly and with great enjoyment. (After all, it’s only slightly over a hundred pages long.) So much so, indeed, that I decided to take it with me ...


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