Saturday, February 04, 2006

Banville on Larkin

Terrific piece in the latest New York Review of Books by John Banville about Philip Larkin, the unwitting creator of this blog's name. Read it here.

I wanted to note two excerpts for those of you who don't read the whole thing. (But really, you should. What else do you have to do? You're already reading my blog, which means you have some serious free time on your hands.)

First, this paragraph by Clive James, which Banville cites after discussing how many people dismiss Larkin's poetry because of his less appealing private views:
Philip Larkin really was the greatest poet of his time, and he really did say noxious things. But he didn't say them in his poems, which he thought of as a realm of responsibility in which he would have to answer for what he said, and answer forever. He also thought there was a temporary and less responsible realm called privacy. Alas, he was wrong about that. Always averse to the requirements of celebrity, he didn't find out enough about them, and never realized that beyond a certain point of fame you not only don't have a private life any more, you never had one.
This made me think I should be reading everything Clive James has written as soon as possible.

Then, buried in Banville's footnotes, is this quote from Larkin about travel, which expresses a sentiment I share almost entirely: “I wouldn't mind seeing China if I could come back the same day."



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