This essay examines Auden's use of poetic forms associated with alienation and exile in the context of the Frankfurt School and Fredric Jameson's conceptualisation of ‘Late Modernism’. Focussing on the dialectical relationship between public and private figured in the verse epistle, rather than, as Randall Jarrell stressed, marking a retreat from the ideals of modernism, the essay argues that Auden's ‘New Year Letter’ is both a marked development in Auden's interest between the writer and his society and a significant re-engagement with those developments in Marxist analyses of history proposed by Adorno and Habermas.

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