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Selected Letters of Philip Larkin, 1940-85 Hardcover – 1 Jan 1992
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Philip Larkin: Selected Letters presents a selection of Larkin's astonishingly frank and entertaining correspondence, whether with literary figures like Kingsley Amis and John Betjeman, or with his more intimate personal friends. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 Diary, 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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. They are always funny, suggesting that he isn't entirely serious, but because the attitudes are elsewhere expressed far less intently, you realise that he did hold those opinions. (There is a recording somewhere, of Larkin drunkenly singing a racist ditty that is quite stomach-turning). The closing few years are grim to read.
Nonetheless, it must be said that this is an absolutely fascinating volume to read, massively enlightening about Larkin's poetry, featuring pleasing amounts of literary gossip, portraits of many literary figures and many opinions and attitudes which broaden our knowledge of Larkin the man. To be read by any fan of Larkin's poetry.
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