Thursday, January 03, 2013


In the last issue of the LRB, the final paragraph of Christopher Tayler's review of a new book about the friendship between Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin (not sure whether or not this one's gated):
Either way, it seems unfair to rap Amis on the knuckles for telling Larkin that ‘you seem to observe women much more closely and sensitively and well lovingly ah ha well perhaps not that than I do.’ Or to detect psychic torment in Larkin’s ‘I sometimes read a poem over with a tiny Kingsley crying How d’you mean at every unclear image, and it’s a wonderful aid to improvement.’ It also seems a bit hostile to pack a study of the two sticklers with phrases like ‘sham hypocrisies’, ‘the fact … is prescient’, ‘very contemporaneous presences’ and ‘not much is said but a great deal is magnificently inferred.’ Though it’s humbling to be shown how much of the believability of literary history comes down to getting words right, Bradford ought to get a tiny Kingsley of his own. Failing that, he could consult Amis’s The King’s English (1997), which deals with the imply/infer thing pretty helpfully, then concludes: ‘If you feel you have mental room for only one of the two, stick to infer while you wait for a new head.’

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