Required Writing: Miscellaneous Pieces, 1955-1982

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University of Michigan Press, 1999 - Literary Collections - 328 pages
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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.

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User Review  - stephenmurphy - LibraryThing

required Reading. Nuff said (esp the interviews, and Jazz criticism). Read full review

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About the author (1999)

Philip Larkin was a British poet, novelist, critic, and essayist. Born in 1922 in Coventry, England, he graduated from St. John's College, Oxford, in 1940 and then pursued a career as a librarian, becoming the librarian at the University of Hull in 1955. Although he led a retiring life and published infrequently, producing only one volume of poetry approximately every 10 years, Larkin was still considered one of the preeminent contemporary British poets. He is often associated with the "Movement," a 1950s literary group that, through the use of colloquial language and common, everyday subjects, endeavored to create poetry that would appeal to the common reader. However, this association came about mainly because Larkin's poem "Church Going," for which he first gained critical attention, was published in New Lines, an anthology of the "Movement" poets. In reality, his work, particularly his later poems, is not typical of the group. Larkin's published a total of only four volumes of poetry: The North Ship (1945), The Less Deceived (1955), The Whitsun Weddings (1964), and High Windows (1974). He also wrote two novels, Jill and A Girl in Winter, and published two volumes of prose, Required Writing and All That Jazz, a collection of his reviews of jazz records. Philip Larkin died in 1985.

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