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W. H. Auden (1907—1973) poet and writer

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Ascent of F6

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A play by W. H. Auden and C. Isherwood, published 1936, first performed 1937.

The central character, Michael Ransom, ‘scholar and man of action’, succumbs to his mother's persuasions and leads a mountaineering expedition up F6, a haunted peak on the borders of disputed colonial territory; all his men die en route and he himself dies as he achieves his mission, destroyed by his own self‐knowledge. A chorus of suburban Everyman, Mr A and Mrs A, comments in verse on his heroic exploits and their own dull lives. Ransom was in part modelled on T. E. Lawrence, the Truly Strong Weak Man. The play is a parable about the nature of power and will and leadership, and reflects the growing apprehension of and attraction towards the ‘strong man’ at this period of the 1930s.

Subjects: Literature

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