News of an interesting sounding British Academy lecture:
The lectures begin at 5.30pm and take place in the British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH. Lectures are free and are open to all and will be followed by a reception at 6.30pm.
Tuesday 19 September 2006
CHATTERON LECTURE ON POETRY
A.E. Housman's Rejected Addresses
Dr Robert Douglas-Fairhurst, Magdalen College, Oxford
Ask me no more, for fear I should reply;
Others have held their tongues, and so can I…
A. E. Housman (1859-1936) has often provoked disagreement among his readers, but there is one aspect of his life and work that almost everyone agrees on: he was a reserved, even a repressed figure – ‘self-absorbed, self-contained’ (Katherine E. Symons), ‘reticent and stiff’ (Lawrence Housman), ‘a strange union of deep passion with severe restraint’ (John Sparrow). This lecture will explore how far commonly accepted ideas of repression are helpful in explaining the distinctive qualities of Housman’s voice, and where else the hiding-places of his imagination are to be found. Above all, I aim to show that Housman is a far more unsettled and unsettling poet than many of his admirers like to think. ‘You always know where you are with Housman’, John Bayley once argued; but although A Shropshire Lad led to Housman being rooted in the popular mind as one of English literature’s finest writers of imaginative topography, remoulding the landscape to fit the more obliging contours of memory and desire, it might be better to think of him as one of the great poets of displacement and disorientation. You never know where you are with Housman.