Peter J. Conradi

The biography that makes Philip Larkin human again

A review of Philip Larkin: Life, Art and Love, by James Booth. A far more attractive character emerges from this new biography than the miserable Mr Nasty found in Andrew Motion's

How does Philip Larkin’s gloom retain such power to disturb? His bleakest verses have the quality of direct address, as if a poetical Eeyore were protesting directly into our ear. ‘Aubade’, his haunting night-time meditation on the terrors of death and dying, focuses on ‘the sure extinction that we travel to/ And shall be lost in always’ and offers no consolation.

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