Processing Disillusionment in Modern England: John Betjeman’s Influence on Philip Larkin




Mitchell, Noelle

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Reacting to an era of high Modernism, which valued myth and elite academic references, two British poets, John Betjeman and Philip Larkin, represent an intentional return to simplicity and a distinct time and place in mid-century Britain. John Betjeman and Philip Larkin were incredibly supportive of each other's poetry, both publicly and privately. However, criticism of the two poet’s interactions is relatively lacking. This thesis shows how Betjeman’s visual attentiveness to English culture within his poetry and prose influenced Larkin’s own poetic style and thematic proclivities, earning John Betjeman a rightful position as one of Larkin’s chief literary influences. Some of the two poets’ most famous poems, such as Betjeman’s “In Ireland with Emily” and Larkin’s “Church Going” as well as Betjeman’s “Before the Aneasthetic” and Larkin’s “Aubade,” serve as touchstones for exploring their mutual interests. Despite the poets’ shared focus on restoring a simplicity of rhyme, form, and accessible language, they present at times opposed visions of religion, faith, and hope while ultimately bemoaning the loss of a cohesive English culture.



English Literature