Instead of a Present
Alan Bennett contributes to a festschrift for Philip Larkin
My first thought was that this whole enterprise is definitely incongruous. A birthday party for Philip Larkin is like treating Simone Weil to a candlelit dinner for two at a restaurant of her choice. Or sending Proust flowers. No. A volume of this sort is simply a sharp nudge in the direction of the grave; and that is a road, God knows, along which he needs no nudging.
Vol. 4 No. 9 · 20 May 1982
From Alistair Ricketts
SIR: I remember reading once that John Braine’s teenage son had exclaimed to his father: ‘Man, librarians are the living dead!’ I think I prefer Alan Bennett’s view (LRB, 15 April) that librarians are ‘close relatives of the walking dead’. This admittedly enfeebled version suggests the possibility of a kinship between librarians and writers to which the latter are not in general alive.