Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Wonderful Review by Peter Hitchens of Philip Larkin's Collected Poems... be found here.

Peter Hitchens is a British national treasure. In an age where both left-wing and right-wing have degenerated into two slightly different flavours of libertarianism, Peter Hitchens is pretty much the only proper conservative-- that is, social and cultural conservative-- still keeping the fires burning. (There is also Roger Scruton, but his conservatism is so refined and intellectualised and irony-laced that it's difficult for most of us to identify with it. At least, it's difficult for me.)

Hitchens suggests that Larkin might, rather paradoxically, be viewed as a great religious poet. (Larkin, of course, was not only an atheist but an atheist who was utterly obsessed with his mortality, articulating the horror of eternal oblivion in unsurpassably stark terms in his  masterpiece "Aubade".) One thing I find interesting is that Hitchens is an Englishman very much in the manner of Philip Larkin, with a very similar temperament and set of opinions. And yet one of these Englishmen professes Christian faith while the other stoically refused to do so. Faith is the difference that makes everything different.

Just in case anyone is interested, I wrote a Larkin-related article myself some years ago, which can be found on the website of the Philip Larkin Society here. It's an appreciation of a piece of Larkin juvenalia, "The School in August". The text of the poem is not reproduced with the article, but it's not difficult to find.

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