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Philip Larkin: Selected Letters [Paperback]

Philip Larkin , Anthony Thwaite
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

25 Oct 1993

The enormous popular appeal of Philip Larkin's poetry has long been established; but oddly little is known to his admiring public about the personality behind the work.

The Selected Letters will change this, throwing light on a more complex, and in many ways more remarkable, figure than most readers will be expecting. Whether addressing his literary friends - who included Barbara Pym, Kingsley Amis and John Betjeman - or those less prominently placed, Larkin shows himself to have been one of the frankest and most generously entertaining letter-writers of the century.

Confessions, jokes, advice, scurrilities, pronouncements on literature and jazz, impromptu verses published here for the first time, gossip and wisdom abound in these pages. They give an astonishing view of a great poet's progress from brash youth to rueful age, and, in complementing the poems, provide a biographical document that no serious reader can afford to ignore.



Product details

  • Paperback: 791 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (25 Oct 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 057117048X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571170487
  • Product Dimensions: 21.4 x 13.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 247,797 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and St John's College, Oxford. As well as his volumes of poems, which include The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and two books of collected journalism: All What Jazz: A Record Library, and Required Writing: Miscellaneous Prose. He worked as a librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and the W. H. Smith Award.

Product Description

About the Author

Philip Larkin was born in Coventry in 1922 and was educated at King Henry VIII School, Coventry, and St John's College, Oxford. As well as his volumes of poems, which include The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows, he wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and two books of collected journalism: All What Jazz: A Record Library, and Required Writing: Miscellaneous Prose. He worked as a librarian at the University of Hull from 1955 until his death in 1985. He was the best-loved poet of his generation, and the recipient of innumerable honours, including the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and the WHSmith Award.

As one of Philip Larkin's chosen literary executors, Anthony Thwaite edited the Collected Poems, Selected Letters and Further Requirements. His own Collected Poems, drawing on fifty years work, was published in 2007.

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I've just been out shopping & bought 1 pkt of notepaper, 25 envelopes, 1 oz tobacco, 1 oz assorted cigarettes (Russian, Egyptian & fuck-all), 1 notebook, and 1 child's drawing book. Read the first page
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Curdled Vision 21 Dec 2006
Format:Paperback
This is a remarkable book. Larkin was an assiduous letter writer throughout his life, and this book presents over 40 years of them, to a very broad range of recipients, many well-known (Kingsley Amis, Douglas Dunn, John Wain, John Betjeman). Letter-writing featured strongly in both Larkin's completed novels, and can be seen to be a very important aspect of his life. But as both "Jill" and "A Girl In Winter" suggest, letter-writing not only acts to entertain and send news and gossip to the recipient, but also offer a partial self-definition. You write TO a particular person, and what you write is in part defined by that person. This is particularly the case here, where Larkin's voice and register change dramatically not only over time (as you'd expect) but very much by the recipient.

So, to start with, Larkin's youthful letters are a delight, as he is keen to impress others with his intelligence and his profound discoveries of the world around him. With JB Sutton, he becomes intimate as with no other, and reveals his profoundest worries, amidst much DH Lawrence worship, but gets stuck in this vein. With Kingsley Amis he is matey, blokish and hard-swearing. With Robert Conquest later on, even more so (with additional pornographic interest). The main biographical interest in this book will be, I suppose, his letters to the women in his life. To Monica, his main lover and companion (and his intellectual equal), he is profound, honest and self-castigating, whereas with Maeve (his "love") he is far more generous, tender and much less self-concerned. Things start to alter in the 1960s, though, as he starts to sour, and his letters to Amis and a former school friend Colin Gunner become almost staggering outpourings of vitriolic bile.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Larkin's letters 19 Dec 2010
By MartinS
Format:Paperback
Fascinating and entertaining collection of letters. Some, especially the ones to Kingsley Amis, are very funny. The rest contain many interesting insights and observations, and are very readable. Thoroughly recommended, not just for Larkin fans.
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