Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces, 1955-1982
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.