Larkin on Fiction

Was Albert Camus a better goalkeeper than George Orwell? Have your say here.
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cameron
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Larkin on Fiction

Post by cameron » Mon May 07, 2007 2:58 pm

" A beginning, a muddle and an end."

ha, ha.

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Post by Charles » Mon May 07, 2007 11:55 pm

:lol:

Out of interest, anyone actually bothered reading his novels? I'm a fan of his poetry, but I dunno if I'm die hard enough to have a look at his early two novels...

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Post by k-j » Tue May 08, 2007 6:48 am

No, I have a feeling Larkin's novels aren't the best. But I've never met anyone who's actually read them; they could be forgotten classics. But, but, lots of his poetry wasn't that good either.

I think Larkin wrote one great (Whitsun Weddings) and two good (the first two) books of poetry. High Windows is too boorish and humourless for me. He was an unproductive genius, all told.

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Post by cameron » Tue May 08, 2007 8:37 am

No, I'm afraid not. Even the titles (Jill and A Girl in Winter) sound a tad dull, don't they?

I would say that The Less Deceived and The Whitsun Weddings are superb. The North Ship is just him immitating Yeats and I agree that High Windows is generally unpleasant. By this stage he seemed to feel that his view of the world was actually the "real" state of play for all people. Very dangerous.

C

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Post by Wabznasm » Tue May 08, 2007 8:47 am

I need to read more Larkin since I've only read Whitsun Weddings - mostly excellent but sometimes awkward I reckon.

Cam - would you suggest The Less Decieved then? High Windows sounds acerbic, is it worth a read?

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Post by Charles » Tue May 08, 2007 9:45 am

I think they're all worth a read, but I have to agree that High Windows can be pretty testing at times, but so can all of Larkin, and it does have "The Trees", an unusually nice one. In fact there are actually some of his most beautiful lines on the joy of life in his later work - it's just always put in juxtaposition with the inevitability of death.

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Post by cameron » Wed May 09, 2007 11:02 am

Wab - absolutely. Why not use my Amazon link at the top of the forum?

Chas

"beautiful lines on the joy of life" ?? Not sure that this immediately springs to mind with Larkin. There are some (IMO) overly descriptive poems such as To the Sea and Show Saturday. The Trees I feel is a bit twee. Larkin is not really a nature poet. The unplesant ones (again IMO) are Vers de Societe, High Windows, The Old Fools, This Be the Verse, Posterity, Sad Steps etc

If you want a truly fine late classic poem by Larkin then see:

http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/aubade/

I think poetry has hi-jacked fiction here.

Cam

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Post by Charles » Wed May 09, 2007 2:07 pm

Larkin isn't a nature poet, but the ones he did do, like "First Sight" and "The Trees" are actually quite pleasant, and when you're trawling through Larkin's collected poems they seem so much more beautiful. "Friday Night at the Royal Station Hotel" is another one like that - though not really a nature poem.

And I was just thinking of lines like "The million flowered petal of being here" from The Old Fools and "Is a reminder of the strength and pain/ Of being young, that can't come again,/ But is for other undiminished somewhere." from Sad Steps and the last stanza of High Windows has a melancholic beauty to it as well.

And yes, Aubade is a masterpiece. The thing is poems about death and loss like "Aubade", "The Building" and "The Old Fools" simply wouldn't work unless the poet make plain the value of what is being lost - and I think Larkin does do that very well despite himself. But yes, "joy" isn't the best word, perhaps.

"This be the Verse" is rather nasty poem, I admit though. I think even Larkin was rather annoyed by its popularity.

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Post by Wabznasm » Thu Jun 07, 2007 11:43 pm

I finished High Windows earlier today. I think I'm on the fence in this discussion. Some of his moments come with wonderful sentiments, and are both encouraging and understanding of people. Pieces like Livings, Show Saturday and Sad Steps, whilst rippling with pathos, still do show real intuition.

But, KJ is completely right. Some of his poems are tedious and self-indulgently crude. It's not that I want PC poetry, but I got a little sick of his almost prose-like rants in Going, Going, The Old Fools and Posterity. Drawn out, desperate, and sludgy. And these are the most sympathetic too. I think you're right Cam, he does seem to almost change his opinions into his poetic persona. As though he's forcing his views and opinions upon people and, because he's been shaping himself through his writing for so long, thinks it is the state of play for everyone. I think the lapses of this and the poems about interesting side-topics (like Forget What Did) and sympathy (to an extent) like in How Distant are his better ones.

The title piece really sets the tone though, doesn't it?

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Re: Larkin on Fiction

Post by Charles » Wed Sep 05, 2007 10:18 pm

Well, I read "A Girl in Winter". Good, but not great. Worth the read if you're a Larkin fan though, because, and I know this is a cliche, but it really does shed new light on his poetry, and there are some really great passages in there even if it does drag a little at times. As one might predict, the ending is rather bleak as well. It's also left me with a nagging feeling that there's more in it that I've missed and it merits another reading. I guess that could be a plus. :P

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Re: Larkin on Fiction

Post by twoleftfeet » Sat Sep 22, 2007 10:29 am

A beginning, a middle, and an end. ?

I dunno - when I read Nick Hornby's FEVER PITCH, I felt it was a book of two halves....
Or maybe two ends, and a centre circle....

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