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Phillip Larkin and the TLS

This week's TLS has a lengthy commentary from journalistic 'veteran' John Shakespeare, who enlightens us on the control issues and neuroticism of Philip Larkin. Shakespeare was charged, in the 50s, with obtaining the first Larkin interview and, rather naively gave the 'poet on the threshold of fame' a preview of the copy. Larkin then proceeded to cut up and reshape the entire interview copy in the most control-freakish manner ever recorded! I'm guessing. What is interesting about Larkin is realising that he was banished to 'bedsitting' rooms until well into his thirties, whilst working as a librarian at Hull University, confiding to Shakespeare that he would like to 'achieve his two private symbols of luxury, "my own lavatory and a daily copy of The Times'. Surely an example of what even Oxford educated full-time professional workers had to put up with. What is also interesting is Larkin's like of 'finding out about other writers' - a penchant of my own - and yet disliking 'literature based on other literature, poems about poems or poets...' Larkin was also concerned that the interview should contain nothing that 'would upset his employers, his staff or his parents - in that order'. Shame about 'They f**k you up' then, which clearly kicks the parents into touch, whilst revealing much about this particular poet.

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Thomas Valentine and Joan Theresa
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