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Your issue of 13 May contains a poem by Tom Paulin called ‘Newland Park’ which is clearly about Philip Larkin in old age. In it Paulin calls the safely dead Larkin a ‘randy louse’; speculates pruriently about his sexual relations with a woman who, I believe, is still alive; alleges on grossly insufficient grounds that Larkin hated his next-door neighbour; and takes the opportunity to show off his own knowledge of French. All this is despicable. One could dismiss the poem as childish, except that it displays a calculated, concentrated malignity far nastier than anything in Larkin’s Selected Letters.
St John’s College, Oxford
Nobody ever ‘displayed calculated, concentrated malignity’ to the degree Larkin did (Letters, 27 May). Amazing that his niece, a housemaid of mine in Italy for a time, was so amiable and well-mannered. The bad blood, obviously, came out on his side.
St André de Sangones, France