"Such Deliberate Disguises: The Art of Philip Larkin" argues that a true understanding of Philip Larkin as man and poet lies beyond his enduring public appeal and the variety of criticism that has recently been applied to his work. Richard Palmer suggests that the ostensible simplicity of Larkin's writing, which continues to attract so many readers to him, is deceptive, masking as it does one of the richest and most resonant of oeuvres in twentieth-century poetry. Penetrating the many masks of Larkin, the book sheds new and considerable light on the hitherto largely ignored spiritual significance of his work. Based upon close and scrupulous reading of the poems themselves, it draws upon insights gained from the history of art and the study of religion and myth as much as literary criticism and personal biography.It also brings long-overdue attention to what is seen to be perhaps the chief love, and operative aesthetic force, of Larkin's life: jazz. "Such Deliberate Disguises" is thus a major contribution, not just to Larkin studies, but to the wider cultural history of our times.
Richard Palmer is Director of General Education at Bedford School, where for twenty years he was Head of English. A regular contributor to Jazz Journal International, he has published widely in the fields of literature, education and jazz.
Introduction; Part I: My Proper Ground: Larkin the Jazz Critic; 1 Oh, Play That Thing; 2 Something Snapped Off Short; 3 Glorious Folly: All What Jazz; 4 One Side Will Have To Go; Part II: Hidden Freshness: Larkin the Mature Poet; 5 Introduction; 6 Departures and Arrivals; 7 The Toad Work; 8 Deepening Like A Coastal Shelf; Part III: Counterfeit and Defeat: Larkin's Early Work Conclusion; Notes; Bibliography; Index.