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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

British Academy Chatterton Lecture: Dr Seamus Perry - Auden Unparadised

12th March 2009, 18:15 to 19:15, Elvet Riverside, Lecture Theatre 201

The IAS at Durham and the British Academy will host the second delivery of the 2008 British Academy Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, given by Dr Seamus Perry, University Lecturer and Fellow in English, Balliol College, Oxford.


The Chatterton Lecture on Poetry is a lecture series established in 1954 under the will of E H W Meyerstein of Gray's Inn. A sum was fixed for the funding of an annual lecture to be given by a lecturer under the age of 40 on the life and works of a deceased English poet (interpreted as 'a deceased poet writing in the English language'). The British Academy encourages the lecture to be given a second time at a venue outside London. Dr Perry has agreed to deliver it at Durham.

Auden´s poetry repeatedly imagines kinds of falling and fallenness - from the falls of civilisations to the Fall of man. His own career has itself often been interpreted by critics as a story of decline, a falling-off from the immense promise of his youth. In this lecture I seek to explore the paradoxical inspiration that Auden found in fallenness of many kinds, political, religious, personal and aesthetic, and to show how his own practice as an artist articulated both the reality of the fallen life and an awareness of its paradisal alternative, lost and yet imaginable.

Dr Seamus Perry is co-editor, with Stephen Wall and Christopher Ricks, of 'Essays in Criticism'. His books include 'Coleridge and the Uses of Division' (OUP, 1999); 'Samuel Taylor Coleridge' (British Library, 2003); and 'Alfred Tennyson' (Northcote, 2005). He has edited 'S. T. Coleridge: Interviews and Recollections' (Palgrave, 2000); 'Coleridge's Notebooks: A Selection' (OUP, 2002; rev. 2003) and a volume (2008) in 'Coleridge's Responses', gen. ed. John Beer. He is the author of many essays, and of review articles in the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.

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