Books

Grove Press
Grove Press
Grove Press

The Temple

by Stephen Spender

The Temple is a wonderfully immediate and truthful book, and no doubt this is the way it was in Germany and in the lives and thoughts of a significant circle; one can hear the sophisticated adolescent voices arguing far into the night. And The Temple is radiantly and ironically full of the concerns and hopes of youth, of shared literary ideals and ambitions.” –Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

  • Imprint Grove Paperback
  • Page Count 224
  • Publication Date September 16, 1997
  • ISBN-13 978-0-8021-3524-7
  • Dimensions 5.5" x 8.25"
  • US List Price $16.00

About The Book

The story behind this novel by one of twentieth-century Britain’s great poets and men of letters is nearly as remarkable as the book itself. Not long ago, a friend just returned from America told the author that he had read in the Spender manuscript collection of the University of Texas a novel called The Temple and dated 1929. Stephen Spender immediately obtained a copy of his old draft manuscript—admired in the early thirties by his London publisher, but remaining unpublished because of the sensitivity of the contents and fear of libel actions—and read it with astonished pleasure. He then rewrote it in part, taking care not to diminish its ardent youthfulness, its innocence and cynicism, and the immediacy of its view of the last days of Weimar Germany, on the eve of Hitler’s rise to power.

It is, as one might expect, an autobiographical novel. Vividly present along with the protagonist, and not much disguised, are the two other members of the famous triumvirate Auden-Spender-Isherwood. Here are the experiences of a twenty-year-old Oxford poet on vacation in Hamburg, who then travels down the Rhine with two companions. We see his response to the bronzed young Germans—the Children of the Sun—their friendships, parties, sexuality, naturism (especially their cult of the naked body), and all the gauche hedonism that was soon to vanish under the Nazis.

Clearly The Temple is a novel of historical and literary importance. But it is, as well, an entertaining and moving story of a young man’s awakening.

Tags Literary Gay

Praise

“The novel is thinly disguised autobiography, and is even more fascinating for that. . . . Spender’s famous colleagues [W.H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood] turn up, not much disguised. . . . Beyond the wonderful insights into one of the most well-known triumvirates in English letters, there is a portrait of the world in the eye of the storm between two world wars. It is a novel of awakening—awakening to sex, yes . . . but also awakening to the presence of evil in the world and to the possibilities of love and friendship.”—The Bloomsbury Review

The Temple is a wonderfully immediate and truthful book, and no doubt this is the way it was in Germany and in the lives and thoughts of a significant circle; one can hear the sophisticated adolescent voices arguing far into the night. And The Temple is radiantly and ironically full of the concerns and hopes of youth, of shared literary ideals and ambitions.”—Richard Dyer, The Boston Globe

“[The Temple] will take its place with Lions and Shadows and Berlin Stories and all the other accounts of what it was like being young, gifted, and uncertain in a fascinating, troubled time. . . . It has the quality of ingenuous truth-telling, and that makes it a worthy and admirable book.”—Samuel Hynes, The New Republic

“Eloquent and poetic throughout. . . . A most remarkable and rewarding experience.”—Andy Brumer, Atlanta Journal & Constitution

“A beautifully written book. . . . It would have been a shame if this novel had never seen the light of publication.”—Booklist

“Always gracefully, sometimes elegantly, written, this is a fine example of a young poet’s first attempt at the novelist’s trade.”—Publishers Weekly