AG: So is there some story on the call on Auden? Now what about Auden? Do we have Auden here in 1950?
GC: Let’s get to Brussels, lets get to the big time (stories)..
AG: Now, wait a minute.
GC Alright, let’s hit Auden
AG: Now, what is that situation?
GC: Now, was that in England when the bicycle fell?
AG: No, I didn’t know that. I don’t remember.
GC: Yeah, he picked up the bicycle….we’re in his room..
AG: No, in relation to the scene in ’53? – there’s something?
GC: Then, earlier. You go on..I was thinking of Ansen, when we saw Auden..
AG; ’53-4 something like that
GC: Did we ever see Auden together?
WSB: We never saw Auden together, Gregory, No.
GC: You and I saw their friends We saw Alan Ansen, Chester Kallman.
WSB: Well certainly, yes, but never Auden. I saw much him earlier.
AG: Well it was 1950..(no,) 1938.
WSB: 1938, when he was staying with (Bill) Gilmore (sic) in Brooklyn Heights
AG: There was a great famous house – where Auden stayed. Who else visited (there)?
AG: Tennessee Williams in there?
WSB: Yes. Very definitely. All the View crowd, all of the View crowd.
AG: Surrealists – all staying in the same big house in Brooklyn Heights. And a college friend of Bill’s, William Gilmore..
WSB: William Gilmore
AG: ..who was about.. I guess, Bill’s closest, or second-closest, friend during those (early) days when we first met.
WSB: Fairly close friend, yes.
AG: He was a very elegant old queen, who was a mysterious sort of guy..
AG: …he was always making fun of me, I always thought – “Oh, there’s the divine…”
WSB: Well, he wasn’t any older than I was.
WSB: About three years older.
AG: Well, he looked like a.. He seemed much older than me. He must have liked me because he kept saying what a great beauty I was (and I was embarrassed completely by him). I never did tell you about that.
WSB: Well, the thing about Gilmore is that he had a fatal flaw – he always wanted to be a writer. See, he wants to write a great book but he doesn’t want to go through the procedure of writing one.
AG: Like many of our students!
WSB: But he had a fatal flaw. Now, writers can have all sorts of terrible qualities, but he was an inveterate cheque-dodger. I’ve never gone out with this guy but why he didn’t try to dodge his share of the cheque).. I was with him there (at Harvard) the whole time and he was always talking about getting out of the rat-race and writing a novel (and did once)
AG: But as part of the general demeanor of that scene which would be, actually even earlier, that’s (19)45-(19)47, (which would involve Kerouac also, because Gilmore knew Kerouac pretty well)
WSB: Oh yes. He knew Kerouac well and disliked him. Well, he knew him fairly well and disliked him. Oh yes.
AG: Really? Why?
WSB: Oh well. He thought, you know, he rejected this whole “Beat” thing. He said that Kerouac was just a nut and he was disorganized and undisciplined. He had studied.. his model was Babbitt, you know, the humanist at..
AG: Did Gilmore study with Babbitt?
WSB: Oh yes! – he adored Babbitt
AG: Did you study with Babbitt, did you know…?
WSB: No, no. I never knew Babbitt – but only indirectly, through Gilmore, you see. He was Gilmore’s sort of idol, or mentor…
AG: So Gilmore had a funny kind of high class 57th Street Sutton Place gay style.. I’ve never told anybody…
WSB: Remember that he didn’t have a dime..
AG: But he had an apartment, right on 56th Street, between…
WSB: Yeah, but that was a fluke, you know he got that apartment.
AG: He had an apartment in an elegant section of New York.
AG: But he kept saying, “Oh my dear Allen, you’re such a beauty!”. And I just shrivelled because, by hindsight, I thought he was probably coming on – or, do you think he was..or was he..?
WSB: How do I know!
AG: I don’t know. It’s been puzzling me for forty-five years now! What is.. what was..
WSB: Listen, we’ve been trying to track him down on the biography (sic) and I don’t know where the hell he is. If you can find him, I’d be very grateful
AG: We’ll find out.
Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning approximately twenty-nine minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in