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Competing Pulses

Secular and Sacred in Hughes, Larkin and Plath

James Booth

Since the publication of his Selected Letters in 1992 Larkin's opinion of Hughes's poetry has become notorious: "No, of course Ted's no good at all. Not at all. Not a single solitary bit of good. I think his ex-wife, late wife, was extraordinary, though not necessarily likeable. Old Ted isn't even extraordinary." In other letters Lark caricatures his younger contemporary as 'the Incredible Hulk', and the 'the old crow . . . looking like a Christmas present from Easter Island' (SL, 636; 526). Larkin profoundly distrusted Hughes's bardic mystique. Nevertheless, though he derided Hughes the poet in private letters, his relationship with Hughes the man was amicable enough.

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Paul Bentley, James Booth, Mark Forshaw, Judy Hayden, Sharon Monteith, Jill Terry, Pat Wheeler, and Joanna Zylinska

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