Skip to comments.Philip Larkin, the Impossible Man
Posted on 04/21/2011 1:02:38 PM PDT by mojito
In May 1941, Philip Larkin was the treasurer of the Oxford University English Club and in that capacity had to take the visiting speaker George Orwell out to dinner after he had addressed the membership on the subject of Literature and Totalitarianism. Larkins main recollection: We took Dylan Thomas to the Randolph and George Orwell to the not-so-good hotel. I suppose it was my first essay in practical criticism.
Nudged and intrigued by this potential meeting of minds, I once attempted a comparison and contrast between Larkin and Orwell, as exemplars of a certain style of Englishness. Both men had an abiding love for the English countryside and a haunting fear of its obliteration at the hands of developers. (Here I would cite Larkins poem Going, Going and Orwells novel Coming Up for Air.) Both were openly scornful of Christianity but maintained a profound respect for the scripture and the Anglican liturgy, as well as for the masterpieces of English ecclesiastical architecture. (See Larkins poem Church Going and the same Orwell novel, as well as numberless letters and reviews.) They each cherished the famous English affection for animals and were revolted by any instances of human cruelty to them. (Here consult Larkins poem Myxomatosis, about the extermination of the countrys rabbit population, as well as at least one Orwell work thats too obvious to require mentioning.)
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
Thanks for posting. Hitchens’ stuff is about the only thing I miss from not taking the Atlantic anymore.
Well done comparison of Orwell and Larkin in the article as well as a bit more about Larkin than I would have guessed from his work. Hitchins is usually a good read.
Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can’t escape,
Yet can’t accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.
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