A.E. Housman : Finding a Path to Flourish
Peter Waine's next book (available from late June 2021) is a full-length hard cover study on the much loved poet and classicist A.E. Housman, including a substantial appendix of his poems and illustrations from the early editions of his books of poetry which, in turn, depict the many ways his poems have been interpreted for almost a century. His collection A Shropshire Lad has never been out of print
A.E. Housman: Finding a Path to Flourish will look at this enigmatic person, our greatest classicist who penned some of the loveliest poetry ever written. Despite the relative paucity of his poetic output - he was offered the Poet Laureateship and the Order of Merit, but declined both.
Housman could be kind and unkind, friendly and rude, gregarious and painfully silent, a recluse and a bon-viveur. He believed that life was dreadful and death welcome, but also that death ended one's enjoyment of cherry trees and of the English countryside; a gourmet who lived frugally, a traditionalist who loved to fly to France in the dangerous days of pioneering aviation.
He lost his religious faith at 13 but he still acquired an encyclopaedic knowledge of the Bible which he used extensively in his poems. He never wished to be regarded as a war poet, but his verse lent solace to the bereaved in two world wars. Many of the most eminent contemporary composers attempted to put his poems to music but in Housman's eyes at least, most failed.
He was homosexual but almost certainly a repressed one. His emotional life was over by the time he was 30 and the subject of his affection was neither a homosexual nor even aware of the effect he had had on Housman.
He failed his Finals but still became Professor of Latin at both University College, London and Kennedy Professor of Latin at Cambridge.
Despite being regarded as our greatest classicist he devoted 27 years to translating a Latin poet of the third rank whom Housman himself summed up as ' facile and frivolous.' Regarded as an intellectual machine and with the tools afforded him by his mastery of great prose Housman took up the challenge of textual criticism, rectifying in his mind the hitherto poor classical scholarship of his contemporaries and of those who preceded him.
The author advocates a reason for these strange paradoxes, a theory not propounded before that he was autistic.
A.E. Housman: Finding a Path to Flourish is a tribute to this great man, showing the challenges he faced, the setbacks he endured and the extraordinary successes he achieved.