Read Jill by Philip Larkin Free Online
Book Title: Jill|
The author of the book: Philip Larkin
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 7.99 MB
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Loaded: 2417 times
Reader ratings: 7.1
Edition: The Overlook Press
Date of issue: August 22nd 1984
ISBN 13: 9781590209622
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Larkin wrote Jill during Word War II, while he was still at university and set the book in the same time and place. The writing is very good, as you would expect from a poet as good as Larkin. Words are tools he obviously has no problem using. However, the story leaves something to be desired.
As I began reading the book I raced through it. Larkin writes brilliantly of the displacement felt by his main character, John Kemp, a working class freshman at Oxford University. John is "as restless as a cat in new home". It is easy to wallow with him in his melancholy and disorientation. In a good way. His early interaction with roommate, Chris Warner, is a masterpiece. It immediately called to mind one of my favourite books, Brideshead Revisited, and I hoped it would continue in this vein. Larkin writes: "Whatever one might think of Christopher Warner, he could not be neglected." Unfortunately, Larkin does.
The book goes downhill when the eponymous Jills, technically there are two, come onto the scene. The first is an imaginary sister created by John. He writes false letters to her and diaries by her. These provide insights into John's character; "She hated Maisie, and envied her, and hated herself for envying her" could have been written about John and Chris. On the whole though, this section is dull.
The second Jill is actually called Gillian, a young girl John becomes infatuated with. The infatuation ends badly but not tragically. The plotline seems pointless and fails to engage after the well-written and promising start. As I was reading the book I was counting the pages until the end, never a good sign. I even found it a significant effort to get through the last hundred pages. I would not even call it bad, just mediocre. Mediocre is not good enough though, when there are so many books to read and many, many of them more worth reading than this one.
The early qualities resurface towards the end after a bombing raid hits John's home town. Once again his disorientation and anxiety are wonderfully realised. It is not enough to redeem the whole and the book staggers to an uninteresting close.
The most interesting part of the novel is Larkin's 1963 introduction, which was almost worth the £3 I paid for the book. In it he talks about writing the book and his friendships at the time, including that of Kingsley Amis.
Overall though, give this one a miss.
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Read information about the authorPhilip Arthur Larkin, CH, CBE, FRSL, was an English poet, novelist and jazz critic. He spent his working life as a university librarian and was offered the Poet Laureateship following the death of John Betjeman, but declined the post. Larkin is commonly regarded as one of the greatest English poets of the latter half of the twentieth century. He first came to prominence with the release of his third collection The Less Deceived in 1955. The Whitsun Weddings and High Windows followed in 1964 and 1974. In 2003 Larkin was chosen as "the nation's best-loved poet" in a survey by the Poetry Book Society, and in 2008 The Times named Larkin as the greatest post-war writer.
Larkin was born in city of Coventry, West Midlands, England, the only son and younger child of Sydney Larkin (1884–1948), city treasurer of Coventry, who came from Lichfield, and his wife, Eva Emily Day (1886–1977), of Epping. From 1930 to 1940 he was educated at King Henry VIII School in Coventry, and in October 1940, in the midst of the Second World War, went up to St John's College, Oxford, to read English language and literature. Having been rejected for military service because of his poor eyesight, he was able, unlike many of his contemporaries, to follow the traditional full-length degree course, taking a first-class degree in 1943. Whilst at Oxford he met Kingsley Amis, who would become a lifelong friend and frequent correspondent. Shortly after graduating he was appointed municipal librarian at Wellington, Shropshire. In 1946, he became assistant librarian at University College, Leicester and in 1955 sub-librarian at Queen's University, Belfast. In March 1955, Larkin was appointed librarian at the University of Hull, a position he retained until his death.
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