Reading dates: 27 July – 13 December 2014
Neil and I read this book together, aloud and to each other, before our daily Pride and Prejudice chapter. No, no, no. This order did not work as Larkin, for all his sins, sent us to a particular universe of bleakness, social observations, impossible loves and thoughts of death. How could I take Darcy and Elizabeth seriously after that? The result of this experiment is that, after we finish Austen’s novel, we will only read poetry to each other, and novels by ourselves.
I love Larkin’s work, but it had such a profound effect in me, I am not sure I can muster a higher rating. He gave me nightmares, made me want to cry, made me feel those ripples in the skin I get when I try to imagine what it is like to be dead. All this in precise language and interesting punctuation. I think he taught me how to read poetry aloud, how to dance the words in my mouth. Ah, dance … there are lots of poems about dance in this book … like the one below, aptly unfinished … I love dancing but Larkin is right, it is an awkward thing.