Philip Larkin (1922-1985)

A selective list of online literary criticism for the twentieth-century English poet Philip Larkin, favoring signed scholarly articles and articles from peer-reviewed sources

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"Philip Larkin." Poetry Foundation. Encyclopedia-type introduction to Larkin, his biography, themes, and techniques, with text for some of his most famous poems.

"Philip Larkin." Poetry Archive. Directors, Andrew Motion & Richard Carrington.

"High Talk: Influences from the British Isles." Academy of American Poets. Brief article on British and Irish poets, including Philip Larkin, who had an important influence on twentieth-century American poetry.

The Philip Larkin Society. Ed. James Booth. The web site has critical essays from About Larkin, links to additional newspaper reviews and articles, a biography, a bibliography, a discussion list and more.

Regan, Stephen. "Philip Larkin." 16 November, 2002. Literary Encyclopedia. Eds. Robert Clark, Emory Elliott, Janet Todd. An introduction to Larkin, from a database that provides signed literary criticism by experts in their field, and is available to individuals for a reasonably-priced subscription [sub ser].

literary criticism

Bayley, John. "Larkin, Pym and Romantic Sympathy." About Larkin 14 (2002). Says Bayley, in Larkin "humour becomes a part, and often the most important part, of what might be termed a new Romanticism. 'At thirty-one, when some are rich,/ And others dead/ I, being neither, have a job instead.'"

Brett, Raymond. "Philip Larkin at Hull: A Psycho-Literary Sketch." About Larkin 7 (1999). A memoir of Larkin by Brett, who was Professor of English at the U of Hull during the time Larkin was a librarian there.

Burt, Stephen. "High Windows and Four-Letter Words." Boston Review, Oct. 1996. On "This Be The Verse" and Larkin's inventive use of profanity.

Burt, Stephen. "The Poet of Dirty Words." Slate, 27 May, 2004.

Goodman, Richard. "My particular Talents: Larkin's 42 year career as Librarian." About Larkin 4 (1997).

Hartley, Jean. "Philip Larkin, The Marvell Press and Me." The North 7 (1989). An editor describes her reaction, in 1953, to being sent Larkin's "Spring," "Dry Point" and "Toads."

Hartley, Jean. "Philip Larkin and me, or you: the democratic appeal of his poetry." A talk delivered at the University of Hull on 15 November 2000. Philip Larkin Society.

Herold, Marcus. "Larkin's Predicament." About Larkin (1996). An essay on Larkin's supposed pessimism concludes that he is indeed glum: "A consideration of individual aspects of Larkin's dilemma, such as his sense of failure or the feeling that his lifetime passes unused, led over to a more detailed discussion of a set of clearly-defined dilemmas, all of which were shown to share the same underlying pattern: the persona aims at something that is out of reach for him, and is at the same time unable to come to terms with what he has got."

Kamitani, Suzuyo. "Jane Exall – 'A Bosomy English Rose.'" About Larkin 16 (2003). On Larkin's correspondence with Jane Exall.

Kenyon, John. "Larkin at Hull." About Larkin 6 (1998). Larkin's tenure as a librarian at U of Hull.

King, Don W. "Sacramentalism in the Poetry of Philip Larkin." King argues that Larkin's skeptical tone does not mean he is incurably pessimistic, and contends that his use of sacramental motifs illustrates a curiosity about spiritual matters. Discusses poems from The North Ship (1945), The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964), and High Windows (1974), including "Going," "Faith Healing" and "Church Going."

Larkin, Philip. "Hill Diaries: Philip Larkin." The Angry Corrie, April 1994. Brief, funny excerpt from Larkin's diary while he was at Hull.

Mackinnon, Lachlan. "Reading Between the Lines." A review of Further Requirements, a posthumous collection of Larkin's prose. The Guardian, 30 Sept. 2001.

Miles, John. A review of Reference Back: Philip Larkin's Uncollected Jazz Writings 1940-1984, by Richard Palmer, and John White, foreword by Alan Plater. About Larkin 8 (1999).

Motion, Andrew. "A Fanfare for the Common Man." The Guardian 5 July 2003.

Neumann, Fritz-Wilhelm. "The Poet of Political Incorrectness: Larkin's Satirical Stance on the Sexual-Cultural Revolution of the 1960s." EESE 4 (2003).

Orwin, James L. "Philip Larkin." Philip Larkin Society. A brief biography.

Orwin, James L. "'An Arundel Tomb' - an Interpretation." About Larkin 17 (2004).

Osterwalder, Hans. "'Wanking at ten past three': Larkin's posthumous love poetry." Philip Larkin Society. Writes Osterwalder, "To my mind the poems on love excel: they help us get a fuller view of Larkin's desperate internal struggle, and beyond the personal level, of the late-20th-century man's inability to love and commit himself in general; they deserve to stand side by side with the celebrated pieces which have already achieved the status of modern classics."

Porteous, J. Douglas. "Nowhereman." About Larkin 8 (1999). On Larkin's geography and sense of place.

Raine, Craig. "A Tribute to the Late Poet Philip Larkin." The Guardian, 3 December 1985.

Reiss, Edward. "Poetry and Prejudice: Sexual Politics in 'Sunny Prestatyn.'" About Larkin 7 (1999).

Shaw, Robert B. "Philip Larkin: A Stateside View." Poetry Nation 6 (1976).

Tolley, Trevor. "On First Looking into Larkin's 'The Less Deceived.'" A paper delivered at the Larkin in Context Conference, 2002.

Weldon, Dave. Close reading of Larkin's "Arrival." By poet Dave Weldon, personal web site, Sept. 2001.

Whalen, Terry. "'Strangeness made sense': Philip Larkin in Ireland." Antigonish Review 107 (2004).

Woolley, John. "Coming." Short analysis of "one of Larkin's most delicately elusive poems" considers its contradictions and hypocrisy. About Larkin 11 (2001).

"Bibliography." Philip Larkin Society. A primary and secondary bibliography for Larkin.

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