Although it is not much of a defense, one might say of Larkin that he was the victim of what our teacher-priests used to call "bad companions." Richard Bradford points out that "virtually all indications that Larkin was a misogynistic, intolerant racist occur in his letters to Colin Gunner and Kingsley Amis." Amis, who was as funny as Larkin, early on abandoned his youthful socialist convictions in favor of a kind of radical low Toryism which swelled with the years to caricature proportions; Gunner, whom Larkin had not seen since their schooldays together, renewed contact with him in 1971, and the two embarked on a correspondence in which each shored up the other's baleful right-wing leanings. "Gunner," Bradford writes, "was the kind of eccentric Englishman one might expect to find in fiction but who frequently survives outside it: lower middle class, quixotic and reactionary, and almost endearingly self-destructive."
Continuing To Live
Continuing to live -- that is, repeat
A habit formed to get necessaries --
Is nearly always losing, or going without.
This loss of interest, hair, and enterprise --
Ah, if the game were poker, yes,
You might discard them, draw a full house!
But it's chess.
And once you have walked the length of your mind, what
You command is clear as a lading-list.
Anything else must not, for you, be thought
And what's the profit? Only that, in time,
We half-identify the blind impress
All our behavings bear, may trace it home.
But to confess,
On that green evening when our death begins,
Just what it was, is hardly satisfying,
Since it applied only to one man once,
And that one dying.
Lisa Jardine, a professor in the English department at the University of London, wrote, Bradford tells us, that while she "would not go quite so far as to ban the study of Larkin his poems would be removed from the core curriculum and dealt with only to disclose 'the [parochial] beliefs which lie behind them.'"....She dismisses the poems—"Actually, we don't tend to teach Larkin much in my Department of English"—for not engaging with "everyday discriminations, everyday assumptions of white British superiority" and for the fact that the values she thinks he celebrates sit uneasily "within our revised curriculum, which seeks to give all of our students, regardless of background, race or creed, a voice within British culture."
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