First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin

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Peter Owen, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 272 pages
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When Anthony Thwaite's edition of Philip Larkin's Letters was published in 1992 and Motion's biography came out a year later. Larkin's enemies seized on the new disclosures with a frenzy hardly witnessed since the McCarthy era. What had hitherto been regarded only as potential inclinations hinted at in his poems - misogyny and xenophobia in particular - were no indisputable facts, and since then Larkin's reputation as a poet has been tarnished by his image as a human being. Richard Bradford's new biography reveals that Larkin treated his prejudices and peculiarities with detached circumspection. Sometimes he shared them, self-mockingly, self-destructively, with his closest friends: he divided up his life so that some people knew him well but none completely. It was only in the poems that the parts began to resemble the whole. The trajectory of his poetic writing was influenced principally by his friendship with Kingsley Amis. Without Larkin, Amis's immensely successful first novel, Lucky Jim, would not have been written. Its success caused Larkin to finally abandon his own ambitions as a novelist, to concentrate exclusively on his poetry and his poetry would thereafter become his autobiography, Larkin's poetry is in its own right magnificent, and readers of Bradford's biography will be able to extend their appreciation of his art to an acquaintance with the artist at work.

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User Review  - John_Vaughan - LibraryThing

It was Jonathan Raban who led me to Phillip Larkin, writing in Coasting of visiting his old friend and ”Don” from Hull University. Larkin became a published and revered poet during the thirty odd ... Read full review


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Not the Places Fault
Oxford and Amis

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About the author (2005)

Richard Bradford is Professor of English at the University of Ulster.

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