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Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica

4.04 of 5 stars 4.04  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Philip Larkin: Letters to Monica Philip Larkin met Monica Jones at University College Leicester in autumn 1946, when they were both 24, he was the newly-appointed assistant librarian and she was an English lecturer. This title consists of nearly 2000 letters, postcards and telegrams, which chronicle various aspects of Larkin's life and the convolutions of their relationshi ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published December 1st 2010 by Faber and Faber (first published October 21st 2010)
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I love Larkin's poetry but I started reading this book feeling faintly uncomfortable about the idea that I was about to read extracts from the many hundreds of letters he sent to his - and this is where it starts getting tricky, because how do you describe Monica and the role she played in his life? I suppose it's fair to say she was at best his on-off girlfriend for over 30 years. He said he loved her, and they talked many times about living together and even getting married, but Larkin maintai ...more
James Murphy
Philip Larkin met Monica Jones in 1946. They were correspondents and lovers until his death in 1985. Her personification quickly became that of a rabbit, an endearment he continued their entire relationship. Sometimes he referred to himself as a seal. He always called her "bun" and often adorned the letters with little drawings of a rabbit involved in rabbit activities such as cooking or watching television. In reality she was an English professor at University College, Leicester for most of the ...more
"Indeed, although I know you are living there a normal girl I do deeply feel 'somehow' there is a rabbit there too, doing the things you do; even lecturing on Hopkins. It is a strange fancy. I can't explain it. I think perhaps the rabbit takes your place at times, or stays behind when you go out to an evening at the Frasers. Of course I know it doesn't really! but I feel loth to say 'there 'is' no rabbit'. It must be deeply fixed in 'me', & therefore the fault, if there is one, is mine."


I enjoyed this book quite a bit. If you are only going to give one poet a try, I would say look at the poems of Mr. Phillip Larken. He also wrote a few novels and other material.

His day job was the head of a University Library; he seemed very well liked by his staff. Monica is a professor of English at another college and they have a long distance relationship for decades. But the distance is not only abut 100 miles? Phillip is a bit of a weakling, and hates to drive at night, get up early, etc.
Feb 29, 2012 Adrian added it
Letters from Larkin to his longtime paramour Monica Jones from the late 1940s to 1984. Nearly quit reading this volume five or six times but something drove me on to the finish. I was girding myself for the nasty, racist, homophobic Larkin that was revealed when his first correspondence was published but in this respect found him mild. He comes across as a rather closeted-in man who does a job he hates (librarian) with people he resents. He nurses grudges wonderfully and has a snide view of life ...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
Oh genius, genius, genius. But I don't think Larkin was a terribly adequate lover or a particulary nice man. Still, Monica was happy enough...
Andrew Darling
'32 Pearson Park, Hull, 27 November 1968.
Dearest bun,
Morning, noon & bloody night
Seven sodding days a week,
I slave at filthy work, that might
Be done by any book-drunk freak.
This goes on till I kick the bucket;
Nice to be a pawet, ya knaw, an express ya feelins. Eh? The last line should be screamed in a paroxysm of rage.'

Well, they say he was a misogynist, a fascist, a God knows what-ist. These letters were written over a long period to the woman he loved most
I found that this added depth to some of the poems I have studied, and I did enjoy finding out a bit more about Larkin himself, the man behind the poetry. However, this book is not a autobiography. Much of what Larkin says he repeats and he constantly contradicts himself.
You are almost rooting for Monica to either rid herself of Philip or for Philip to finally marry her. Why he does not I do not quite understand, all I can think is that he was more serious about his writing than he lets on.
My l
poor old larkin. we have the same mum. only I don't have his talent.
Sam Schulman
I'd rather read Larkin letters than anything ever written, and here are more. Hard to imagine reading this without having read either the big letters collection or the biography, but these form a separate narrative, of a great writer, shy, bad with women, who nevertheless manages to ruin a life or two. I love him and her. I put it down with 50 pages or so to go because I don't want to live through his death again.

A strange, strange man. Interspersed with his mundanity are some interesting literary comments in particular the revelation that "The Secret Garden" and "Lady Chatterly's Lover" have striking similarities! But how Monica put up with him I do not know.
Mar 06, 2014 ☯Bettie☯ rated it 1 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Book of the Week Radio 4 listeners

blurb - Philip Larkin's Letters to Monica span the forty years of their relationship from 1946 when they met, until Larkin's death in 1985. They only came to light after Monica Jones died in 2001, when nearly two thousand letters were discovered in Larkin's house in Hull. This never previously published correspondence, edited by Anthony Thwaite, offers a unique insight into Larkin's most intimate thoughts.

Philip Larkin writes to Monica about his poetry, h
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Philip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL, was an English poet, novelist and jazz critic. He spent his working life as a university librarian and was offered the Poet Laureateship following the death of John Betjeman, but declined the post. Larkin is commonly regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. He first came to prominence with the release of his thi ...more
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“Morning, noon & bloody night,
Seven sodding days a week,
I slave at filthy WORK, that might
Be done by any book-drunk freak.
This goes on until I kick the bucket.
“Originality is being different from oneself, not others.” 48 likes
More quotes…