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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Larkin reading, 13 Jan 2012
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This review is from: First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (Paperback)
This is very readable yet contains most of what you need to know about Larkin in a shorter version than Andrew Motion's epic. The author does not try to shield us from PL's more unattractive qualities yet goes a stage further and argues successfully that it's essential to understand his foibles to understand his work.

I also enjoyed the swipe at the halfwits who wanted to censor their delicate undergraduate's eyes from his poems. PL was a bit of a lecher for all his life (many are but don't admit it) but still was one of the greatest poets of the last century.

I'm sort of proud to admit I had a conversation with him once whilst an undergraduate at Hull, though it was only about an overdue library book.!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential Larkin read. Highly recommended., 20 Nov 2011
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JAW "JAW" (Surrey, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (Paperback)
If Motion's 'A Writer's Life' was the definitive and comprehensive Philip Larkin biography, then this is the companion essential shorter guide to his life and works, and in some ways its superior for reasons of style and brevity. All that's needed for an introduction to the man and his works is here, wedded to a very readable prose style and easy familiarity with his subject. Mr Bradford writes well and with evident love and the book accordingly slips by most pleasurably.
By the by, I was also gratified to find Mr Bradford has had the courage to take on the literary establishment hyenas who sought to savage (and even censor!) Larkin once he was safely dead. They get the broadside they so richly deserve.
Highly recommended to Larkin newcomers and aficionados alike.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life IS like that,and so are we, 23 April 2012
This review is from: First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (Paperback)
The poem-related observations in this book had me juggling it with the recent 'Complete Poems' (Archie Burnett, Ed.). They helped me feel the thrusts of Larkin's 'emotional spear points' more acutely. I warm to the distinction between poetic truth and prosaic posturing that he had to respond to - we should read more (Larkin's) poems and less novels. It is a shame that his limited emotional development meant that he ran out of perspectives on life, but his narowness was profoundly pictured. The biographical detail in this book gives valuable and enjoyable access to the depth of Larkin's superficially 'accessible' poetry.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Eng. Lit. Biography, 15 May 2013
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This review is from: First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (Paperback)
For someone wanting a straightforward biography of the poet, this is not the book for them. The constant referring back of Larkin's poetry to his experiences becomes rather "toe-stubbing" after a while. The reader is left with the distinct impression it was written by an academic for academics and as such is an admirable piece of work but it singularly fails to get to the heart of the man. The fault, however, may lie with the subject and not with the author. Despite the biographer's best endeavours to reinstate Larkin as a rather likeable, misunderstood character, one finishes this book with the feeling there was a darkness at the heart of the poet which has been rather underplayed. The right-wing, racist views which he continued to express, particularly in his correspondence, throughout his life cannot all be laid at the door of his father. I feel this could have been explored further. This book will certainly appeal to the Eng. Lit student as it is as much a critique on Larkin's poetry as his life but to the general reader - well, that's another thing entirely...
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First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin
First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin by Richard Bradford (Paperback - 6 Jan 2009)
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