ENG 661: Philip Larkin
The great topic for the British poet Philip Larkin was losing, and his typical stance was that of the loser. He turned down the Laureateship late in life (it would have made him a winner), but he is generally acknowledged as the best poet England produced after Auden. He wrote two early novels, one of which we'll read, and some excellent criticism, but he is known for his slim output of masterful poems.
The Chicago-born poet Edward Hirsch says it well: His carefully honed style combined a self-deprecating, razor-like wit with an unshakeable sense of worldly disappointment, of desires unfulfilled and dreams thwarted. His famous remark to an interviewer that, "Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth," is both funny and acute since the misery of diminished and unfulfilled experience is his enduring subject.
And he is wickedly funny.
Kingsley Amis, Lucky Jim (NYRB Classics, 2012)
Philip Larkin, A Girl in Winter (Overlook TP, 1985), Required Writing (U of Michigan Press, 1999), The Complete Poems (FSG, 2012)
Richard Bradford, First Boredom, Then Fear: The Life of Philip Larkin (Peter Owen Ltd, 2009)978-0720613254