Abstract

In late 1959 and early 1960, W. H. Auden and Hannah Arendt had a brief exchange on the subject of forgiveness; their dialogue, conducted in part in response to dramatic literature, resulted in a life-long friendship, including a rebuffed marriage proposal from Wystan to Hannah after the death of Arendt’s husband Heinrich Blücher in 1970. The two met when Auden reviewed The Human Condition for the journal Encounter in 1959, and Auden contacted Arendt by telephone to communicate his admiration. In 1971, Arendt dedicated her essay, “Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture” to Auden, and she wrote a eulogy for the poet when he died in 1973. Yet Arendt never claimed Auden as one of her most intimate friends, and they disagreed on the matter of forgiveness. For Auden, forgiveness (the noun) is an internal state that is necessarily betrayed by presentation on stage, where “forgiveness requires manifestation in action.” For Arendt, on the other hand, forgiving (the verb) is an action that always involves the speech and comportment of a plurality of persons in this world, its action-character rendering it a resource for both politics and drama.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1080-661X
Print ISSN
0028-6087
Pages
pp. 641-663
Launched on MUSE
2015-02-03
Open Access
No
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