The Dance of Death (Auden)
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The Dance of Death is a one-act play in verse and prose by W. H. Auden, published in 1933.
The Dance of Death is a satiric musical extravaganza that portrays the "death inside" the middle classes as a silent dancer. The dancer first attempts to keep himself alive through escapism at a resort hotel, then through nationalistic enthusiasm, then through idealism, then through a New Year's party at a brothel, before he finally dies. Karl Marx appears on stage and pronounces the dancer dead. "The instruments of production have been too much for him."
The play was widely interpreted as pro-Communist, but Auden later wrote in a copy of the printed text, "The communists never spotted that this was a nihilistic leg-pull".
- W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood. Plays and other dramatic writings by W. H. Auden, 1928-1938, ed. by Edward Mendelson (1986). (Text of the play, with historical and textual notes)
- John Fuller, W. H. Auden: A Commentary (1999).
- Edward Mendelson, Early Auden (1981).