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Conspicuously, the four collections Larkin published in his lifetime – The North Ship, The Less Deceived, The Whitsun Weddings, High Windows – occupy fewer than a hundred of these pages.
These notes are at the heart of a fluently-organised volume.Hugely enlarging access to the material, this is marvellous for fans.Yet we can't ignore how difficult this shy writer would surely have found the intrusion; or how it undermines her famous, years-long agonising over individual lines. The Complete Poems, a handsome 700-plus pages of scholarship and material both familiar and unseen, is edited by Archie Burnett.What is undeniable is that, now that the volume exists, it is a must-have for anyone who enjoys Larkin; or indeed for anyone much interested in poetry at all.For, as the 20th century recedes, Larkin seems more and more to be the writer today's British verse has to come to terms with.
Recent attention has focused on the notoriously perfectionist Elizabeth Bishop.