Of the many articles that have appeared in the newspapers on the sad occasion of Philip Larkin’s death, at sixty-three, none dealt adequately with his poetry. The writers of these articles expressed admiration for Larkin’s oeuvre, but more for its popularity than for its poetic qualities. Predictably, the poet’s non-poetic characteristics were given the spotlight: his career as a librarian, his famous anti-social attitudes, and his “prickly, anti-cultural persona,” as an anonymous writer in the Times of London put it. “He never married,” Ian Hamilton reminded us in the Sunday Times, “and for most of his life he lived alone, shuttling from his flat in Hull to the University where he served as the Librarian. It was a life that he enjoyed making no claims for . . . .” The daily Times also focused on the aspect of Larkin’s life he “made...


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