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Philip Larkin wasn’t as bad as all that | Letters

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David Cairns thinks the poet has been unfairly portrayed

Anna Farthing, curator of Hull University’s Philip Larkin exhibition, retrospectively diagnoses the poet as “clearly a narcissist with a borderline personality disorder” (Philip Larkin exhibition in Hull offers fresh insights into poet’s life, 6 July). Even Jake Balokowsky, the fictional biographer conjured up by Larkin’s remorseless self-loathing, was kinder than that. And, while some of Larkin’s critics may well see him as a misogynist, to call him a womaniser with “many lovers” is unfair: he is only known to have had six lovers in his lifetime, none of them casual. Finally, you say Larkin’s lost diaries are “commonly thought to have contained mostly pornography”. If so, it has escaped his three biographers.
David Cairns
London

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