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Art and Literature: A marriage made in heaven or uneasy bedfellows?

Dr Knowles returned to Howell’s Co-Ed College on Tuesday 21st January to treat us to a lecture that combined poetry and paintings to discuss the relationship between art and literature. Starting with a consideration of the story of Icarus, Dr Knowles explored the way poets like Auden and artists such as Brueghel employ the classical myth. In Breughel’s painting it is hard to find Icarus at all while Auden refers explicitly to the painting in the second half of his poem. The way in which the characters ignore Icarus in the painting is taken up in Auden’s poem as he points out the theme of human isolation and ultimate loneliness. For us, as Dr Knowles pointed out, this is much like walking down Queen St today and ignoring the homeless. Art and literature make us empathetic, feeling humans through imaginative engagement. They are immensely valuable contributing to our civilisation and humanity.


 

23 January 2020