Autumn Lecture Series 2018

Thursday 1 November 2018, 6.30pm

David Lodge

‘The Novelist as Memoirist’

The Radcliffe Centre

Tickets £5 to include a glass of wine

The talk is about two memoirs I wrote over last few years: Quite A Good Time To Be Born: A Memoir 1935-1975 and Writer’s Luck: A Memoir 1976-91. I brought out the first volume to coincide with my 80th birthday in 2015. The second one was published earlier this year. Most people who write their memoirs do so late in life, for obvious reasons, but novelists have a special reason for delaying. If they write about contemporary life they usually draw on their own experience for the raw material of their fictions, but they use this material in complex ways, combining real facts with imagined events to create an alternative world. Only the author actually knows which elements in it have their origin in real experience and which are imagined. Part of the interest of reading novelists’ memoirs, or biographies of them written by other hands, is to discover the sources in real life of memorable episodes in works of fiction. But this is a revelation the novelist would prefer to postpone as long as possible, so that his or her work can be judged and enjoyed as art before its sources in reality are revealed.

Thursday 22 November 2018, 6.30pm

Jesse Norman

‘Adam Smith: What he Thought, and Why it Matters’

Ian Fairbairn Lecture Theatre, Chandos Road

Tickets £5 to include a glass of wine

Adam Smith is now widely regarded as ‘the father of modern economics’ and the most influential economist who ever lived. But what he really thought, and what the implications of his ideas are, remain fiercely contested. Was he an eloquent advocate of capitalism and the freedom of the individual? Or a prime mover of ‘market fundamentalism’ and an apologist for inequality and human selfishness? Or something else entirely?

At a time when economics and politics are ever more polarized between left and right, this book, by offering a Smithian analysis of contemporary markets, predatory capitalism and the 2008 financial crash, returns us to first principles and shows how the lost centre of modern public debate can be recreated. Through Smith’s work, it addresses crucial issues of inequality, human dignity and exploitation; and it provides a compelling explanation of why he remains central to any attempt to defend, reform or renew the market system.