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Philip Larkin


Philip Larkin, Collected Poems
Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Larkin’s life:

Born in Coventry in 1922, Philip Larkin was exposed to American jazz in childhood & later wrote jazz reviews for the Daily Telegraph, studied literature at Oxford, became a librarian (for 30 years at the University of Hull), never married, refused the Laureateship, and died in 1985.

Larkin & “the Movement”:

Larkin & friends including Kingsley Amis & Thom Gunn came up in the 1950s and became known as “the Movement” -- poets who wrote about daily life in dreary postwar England in unsentimental, commonplace language, often using rhyme & traditional poetic forms.

Larkin as poet:

Philip Larkin’s poems are spare & lovely artifacts of language, often colloquial & full of 4-letter words, which carry pessimism, despair, decay & a pervading fatalism.

Books by Philip Larkin:

Begin, of course with Larkin’s poems, among which you will find “This Be the Verse” (“They fuck you up, your mum and dad”...) and “Aubade” (“I work all day, and get half-drunk at night”...)
  • Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989)
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  • Selected Letters of Philip Larkin (ed. Anthony Thwaite, Faber & Faber, 1999)
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  • Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces 1955 - 1982 (Poets on Poetry series, University of Michigan Press, 1983)
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  • Further Requirements: Interviews, Broadcasts, Statements and Book Reviews 1955 - 1982 (University of Michigan Press, 2003)
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  • A Girl in Winter (reprint of 1947 novel, Overlook Press, 2003)
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  • Larkin’s Jazz: Essays and Reviews 1940 - 1984 (Continuum Publishing Group reprint, 2001)
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