Daphne Merkin on Larkin’s Letters to Mum

October 28, 2020 | 1 book mentioned

At Bookforum, Daphne Merkin reads Letters Home: 1936–1977, a more than five-hundred-page collection of poet Philip Larkin’s “attentive, touching, and sometimes hilariously banal” letters to his family. In her review, Merkin considers what Larkin’s correspondence reveals about his relationship with his parents, particularly his mother. “In some way it was Eva’s life, rather than the lives of his lovers, that captured and captivated him, leaving him unavailable to commit to other domestic arrangements,” she writes. “Perhaps, curious as it may seem, this inhibited and introverted man (he had a lifelong stammer) could write for the larger world he kept mostly at bay only by accessing the cozy, humdrum world he saw through his mother’s eyes; despite her own fragility, it was she who centered and helped define him.”

is always reading. She works for Brooklyn Public Library and blogs about books at authorstalker.tumblr.com.

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