Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces, 1955-1982

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The reappearance of Philip Larkin's Required Writing will be welcomed by the late poet's many readers and admirers. The book's first two parts, "Recollections" and "Interviews," provide autobiographical glimpses of the very private Larkin's childhood, his youth at Oxford, the genesis of his forty-year career as a librarian, and the influences that initially steered his poetry.

The second half of the book reflects Larkin's literary standards and opinions in often witty and surprising, always beautifully wrought, essays and reviews. His subjects range from Emily Dickinson (were her first lines her best?) to the contemporary mystery novel. Required Writing concludes with a selection of pieces on jazz music.

"Larkin is a punctilious, honest critic. He prefers good clear writing to pretentious eyewash; he prefers tunes to discordant wailing; and he prefers home to abroad. Unlike the majority of critics, he is clear-sighted enough to say so." --A. N. Wilson, Sunday Telegraph

"I read the collection with growing excitement, agreement and admiration. It is the best contemporary account of the writer's true aims I have encountered." --John Mortimer, Sunday Times (London)

"Subtle, supple, craftily at ease, Required Writing is on a par with Larkin's poetry--which is just about as high as praise can go." --Clive James, Observer

Philip Larkin was the author of poetry collections, including High Windows, The Whitsun Weddings, and The Less Deceived; a book of essays entitled All What Jazz: A Record Diary; and two novels, Jill, and A Girl in Winter, published early in his career. Required Reading was originally published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780472085842
  • Publisher: University of Michigan Press
  • Publication date: 10/1/1999
  • Series: Poets on Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Sales rank: 1,202,711
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword 7
Preface 11
Acknowledgements 13
Introduction to Jill 17
Introduction to The North Ship 27
Single-handed and Untrained 31
Early Days at Leicester 36
Vernon Watkins: An Encounter and a Re-encounter 40
An Interview with the Observer 47
An Interview with Paris Review 57
Statement 79
The Pleasure Principle 80
Writing Poems 83
Books 85
Subsidizing Poetry 87
The Booker Prize 1977 93
A Neglected Responsibility 98
The Savage Seventh 111
Carnival in Venice 117
Hounded 120
What's Become of Wystan? 123
The Blending of Betjeman 129
Missing Chairs 134
Masters' Voices 136
Mrs Hardy's Memories 142
The Poetry of William Barnes 149
Frivolous and Vulnerable 153
The War Poet 159
Freshly Scrubbed Potato 164
Wanted: Good Hardy Critic 168
The Poetry of Hardy 175
The Apollo Bit 177
The Most Victorian Laureate 182
Grub Village 188
Big Victims 191
Palgrave's Last Anthology 198
It Could Only Happen In England 204
Mr Powell's Mural 219
Supreme Sophisticate 225
The Real Wilfred 228
The World of Barbara Pym 240
The Changing Face of Andrew Marvell 245
Dull Beyond Description 254
The Girls 260
All Right When You Knew Him 263
The Batman from Blades 266
The Great Gladys 271
The Traffic in the Distance 274
Horror Poet 278
Introduction to All What Jazz 285
Just a Little While 299
Coverage 302
Blues Bash 303
Law 305
Basie 306
Moment of Truth 307
Wells or Gibbon? 309
Minority Interest 312
Vocals 313
What Armstrong Did 314
Index 317
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