He formed a spectrum of impressions which invariably interferes with any reading of his verse. Lisa Jardine, when writing about High Windows, forgot the poems and concentrated on the 'casual habitual racist, [this] easy misogynist...who relished savagely abusing acquaintances'. Even Andrew Motion treats Larkin's later, controversial poems with a kind of embarressed circuitousness, providing, contra Jardine, a dignified fabric of excuse. Richard Bradford's life of the poet will engage directly with Larkin the man, his writings and the controversies surrounding both. It will go beyond the condescending tolerance by those commentators who see Larkin as a terrible man who wrote beautiful verse and will tackle head-on the politically correct McCarthyism which attends his status in academia (two US universities have effectively banned his poetry). Larkin is difficult to categorise because he is an assortment of contradictions. In someways he is an index to to the mood or mind-set of post-war Britain, or at least those aspects of it that all but middle-aged Tories would want to forget: an intolerant, provincial reactionary.
In others he is a disturbing assembly of cosmopolitan radicalism: a Lawrentian, a Freudian who experimented with bisexuality and treated monogamy as an unnatural imposition, a man whose father took him to Germany in the 1930s to impress upon him the benefits of Nazism, an experience from which he never fully recovered.
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(216mm x 138mm x 27mm)
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Author Biography - Richard Bradford
Bradford's biography is a fast-moving narrative which tells us the story of Larkin and shows us how his verse and fiction reflect the troubled, contradictory state of the man. He was, for good or bad, a realist. His work offers us an uncomfortable perception of the world in which he lived, a world which formed his personal characteristics and for which he often reserved an intemperate loathing. More significantly it will provide the reader of his poems, whether acolyte or enemy, with a vivid picture of the man behind the words. Richard Bradford is Professsor of English at Ulster University.