In Defence of the Imagination: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1979-1980

In Defence of the Imagination: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1979-1980

In Defence of the Imagination: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1979-1980

In Defence of the Imagination: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 1979-1980

Excerpt

With some revision and expansion these are the lectures I gave at Harvard as Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry during the session 1979-80. I have added to them, as an appendix, a lecture upon a related topic that I gave in London while I was back in England for a break at Christmas.

The honour of being invited to give the Norton Lectures is accompanied by the pleasure of being invited to spend some six months at Harvard as a member of the University, where I was welcomed by old friends, such as Douglas and Hazel Bush, Gwynne and Betty Evans, Harry and Elena Levin, and Jeremy and Janey Knowles, and made many new friends. Among them, I must particularly thank Professor Jerome Buckley, who was responsible for making arrangements for the lectures but far exceeded his duties by making each lecture the prelude to a celebration, and Professor David Perkins, who made my life very easy by finding a graduate student, Mark MacPherson, to fetch and carry for me. I could not have had a more kind and assiduous attendant and chauffeur. I have to thank Professor and Mrs Frazier, co-masters of Currier House, for giving me the privileges of a fellow and providing me with a guest-flat in the House, as well as for some delightful festive occasions arranged in my honour. I greatly enjoyed the day-to-day contact with students in Currier House, and the opportunity for informal conversation with young people of widely differing backgrounds, experience, and interests. In addition to giving the six public lectures, I shared a course with Professor Ronald Bush on Pound, Eliot, and Joyce, and have to thank him for much helpfulness in initiating me into the ways of a strange university, as well as for conversations on Eliot, and a trip to Gloucester. During my second semester I conducted a graduate seminar on Donne, which was a very happy experience, the class being keen and hard-working, and very . . .

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