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Martin Amis

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The reaction against Larkin has been unprecedentedly violent as well as unprecedentedly hypocritical, tendentious and smug. Its energy does not, could not derive from literature it derives from ideology, or from the vaguer promptings of a new ethos. ... This is critical revisionism in an eye-catching new outfit. The reaction, like most reactions, is just an overreaction, and to get an overreaction you need plenty of overreactors somebody has to do it. ... I remember thinking when I saw the fiery Tom Paulin's opening shot, We're not really going to do this, are we? But the new ethos was already in place, and yes, we really were going to do this on Paulin's terms, too. His language set the tone for the final assault and mop-up, which came with the publication of Andrew Motion's, Philip Larkin: A Writer's Life. Revolting. Sewer. Such language is essentially unstable. It calls for a contest of the passions and hopes that the fight will get dirty.

Martin Amis

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In Andrew Motion's book, we have the constant sense that Larkin is somehow falling short of the cloudless emotional health enjoyed by, for instance, Andrew Motion. Also the sense, as Motion invokes his like-minded contemporaries, that Larkin is being judged by a newer, cleaner, braver, saner world. ... Motion is extremely irritated by Larkin's extreme irritability. He's always complaining that Larkin is always complaining.

Martin Amis

Philip Larkin, a big, fat, bald librarian at the University of Hull, was unquestionably England's unofficial laureate: our best-loved poet since the war; better loved for our poet than John Betjeman, who was loved also for his charm, his famous beagle, his patrician Bohemianism and his televisual charisma, all of which Larkin notably lacked.
Ten years later, Larkin is now something like a pariah, or an untouchable.

Martin Amis

Strong language in Larkin is put in not to shock the reader but to define the narrator's personality. When Larkin's narrator in 'A Study of Reading Habits' (in The Whitsun Weddings) said 'Books are a load of crap' there were critics - some of them, incredibly, among his more appreciative - who allowed themselves to believe that Larkin was expressing his own opinion. (Kingsley Amis had the same kind of trouble, perhaps from the same kind of people, when he let Jim Dixon cast aspersions on Mozart.) It should be obvious at long last, however, that the diction describes the speaker.

Clive James

Painting has nothing to do with thinking, because in painting thinking is painting. Thinking is language record-keeping and has to take place before and after. Einstein did not think when he was calculating: he calculated producing the next equation in reaction to the one that went before just as in painting one form is a response to another and so on."

Gerhard Richter

You don't go into the National Gallery of any famous capital city and cry, sob, laugh, fall about on the floor, become very angry -- it's a completely different reaction. It's a reaction which is to do with a much more composed sense of regarding an image; it's a reaction with a thought process as opposed to an immediate emotional reaction.

Peter Greenaway
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