Saturday, June 12, 2010

Five best books on curmudgeons

For the Wall Street Journal, John Derbyshire named a five best list of books about curmudgeons.

One title on the list:
Collected Poems
by Philip Larkin

Mid-20th-century England was rich with curmudgeons. I cherish recollections of the TV personality Gilbert Harding, whose fame, according to one obituarist, "sprang from an inability to suffer fools gladly." What a glorious thing to be famous for! The great poet of this brotherhood was Philip Larkin. A misogynist, child-hater and stone atheist, Larkin was naturally a political conservative, who said that all his life he had identified liberals with "idleness, greed, and treason." Larkin's bleak verses are, however, marred by occasional lapses from the curmudgeonly ideal. He knew, for example, that, loathsome as our fellow human beings are, solitude gets harder to bear as we age: In "Vers de Société," he wrote: "Sitting by a lamp more often brings / Not peace, but other things. / Beyond the light stand failure and remorse."
Read about another book on the list.

Larkin's "Sad Steps" is one of John Mullan's ten best examples of Moon poetry; his collection The Less Deceived appears on a top ten list of books written by librarians.

--Marshal Zeringue