W.H. Auden was born 108 years ago today.
“My face looks like a wedding cake left out in the rain,” quipped W.H. Auden. Indeed, by the age of 60, Auden’s face looked like the most-read library book in the most popular library; it exhausted any adjectives thrown at it—it was its own adjective. His friend Hannah Arendt said he looked “as if life itself had delineated a kind of face-scape to make manifest the ‘heart’s invisible furies.'”
According to one biographer, Auden suffered from something called Touraine-Solente-Gole syndrome,
in which the skin of the forehead, face, scalp, hands and feet becomes thick and furrowed and peripheral periostitis in the bones reduces the patient’s capacity for activity. There [is] no therapy for the syndrome, which does not affect either life expectancy or mental status, but which account[s] for Auden’s striking appearance of grave, lined melancholy.— “Auden,” Richard Davenport-Hines
Auden probably had never heard of TSG syndrome…
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