Chatterton Lecture on Poetry, delivered by Dr Seamus Perry, on 25 November 2008.
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, Tutor in English & Lecturer in the English Faculty, University of Oxford. Dr Perry was awarded a British Academy Postgraduate Studentship (1989-92). His most recent publication includes co-editing with Stephen Wall and Christopher Ricks Essays in Criticism: A Quarterly Journal of Literary Criticism (Oxford University Press) vol LVIII.