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4.4 out of 5 stars
19
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 8 January 2011
The contents of this book are wonderful - five stars. In his own way Larkin is just as interesting and moving as any of the great poet/letter writers

As an object, this volume is disappointing - one star. Faber produce books of very varied quality. The best are very good, and include excellent recent productions of the letters of Ted Hughes, and the correspondence of Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (just to focus on hardback editions of poets' letters). Their worst are dreadful (eg their recent two volumes of the letters of T S Eliot - contrast the excellent first volume they published twenty or so years ago.) This edition of Larkin is one of their poorer productions. It feels light and shoddy. The pages - glued, of course, (they were sewn in both the Hughes and the Bishop/Lowell mentioned above) are already showing signs of falling out. The paper, smelling of cheap cardboard when you turn the pages, will, I'm sure, go brown quickly. The person who gave me the book for Christmas apologised, saying she thought about sending it back.

Faber needs to understand that if its customers just want content they will wait for the paperback, or, increasingly, go for an e-book. More and more customers will only buy a book, particularly a hardback, if it feels like a quality object. It's not a question of economics. I for one would be prepared to pay a couple of quid more for a hardback if the production standards are excellent; if the production standards are poor I often won't buy the book at all.
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on 10 March 2011
Dearest Bun, Dearest, My Dear, Dear Rabbit and occasionally - when Philip Larkin's fear of exchanging his oneness for twoness is at its lowest - Darling... you can assess Larkin's awful 40-year journey through the lower reaches of relationship commitment by the levels of affection in these appellations and others for Monica Jones. Dearest Bun is the most common term, and is certainly affectionate, but not exactly a term of passionate endearment. It keeps her close to him, but not much closer than arm's length.

Although I took away from these letters everything you would expect from Larkin's always wonderful prose - humour, elegant writing, wry insights, further evidence of his strangely appealing glass-three-quarters-empty world view - and was often moved by his life and his perceptions of his life, I was also really depressed by the lethargy of both Larkin and Monica Jones in their management of their relationship. It's easy to blame Larkin the most, for having it both ways for so long: enjoying her company when he felt like it, and her absence when he felt like that (especially when he was playing away), while she got older and more lonely and less marriageable in an era when marriage cruelly defined female value. But her own apathy in putting up with his semi-detached love and sporadic cheating is just as mind-boggling: five years is understandable, ten years is possible, but forty? This book is a bulging epistolary lesson in the awful dangers of being timid. For God's sake, ditch each other, I kept thinking...

Anyway, a must-read book for any fan of Larkin the poet and Larkin the curmudgeon, and a blueprint for any couple intent on causing each other moderate distress for four decades.

And finally, hopefully one day there will be a complete edition, when the question of whether Anthony Thwaite has represented himself accurately or vainly in this selection (he only gets positive comments by Larkin, unlike virtually everyone else) will be answered. And finally finally, as other reviewers have pointed out, the production values of this hardback by Faber are lamentable - the book was falling to pieces as I approached the end.
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on 8 January 2011
Bought a a present for my son, thank God & Amazon it did arrive in time. Everything I expected from Amazon Letters give a fascinating insight into Larkin's everyday world. A truly superb book!
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on 13 January 2011
This is a delightful book. Larkin is as provocative as in the letters to Kingsley Amis, but reveals a tender, thoughtful side to his nature. A wonderful, tormented man.
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I found these very difficult. Firstly, I love Larkin's poems and it was fascinating to see more of what informed them. Secondly I found him a difficult person to like and the things that make that difficult shout loud and clear from the letters in a way that cannot be ignored as you can slide over them in the poetry. Some of the turns of phrase are marvellous. Some of the letters are touching and sometimes funny, but the self obsession and the shabby way in which he treated others is not particularly edifying reading. A real mixed bag.
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on 29 August 2014
The book gives great insight into Larkin's life. I am now revisiting favourite poems and also discovering less known gems.
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on 4 February 2013
This book was for a Philip Larkin fan so it couldn't fail to please. A super book worth every penny.
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on 21 December 2016
in good condition
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on 9 January 2013
This book was asked for from a member of my family for a Christmas Gift 2011, and he was very grateful.
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