ESSAYS: A generation of poets reassessed, half a century on, reflects on a movement, while all the while reinforcing the power of the individual, writes JOHN MONTAGUE in his review of The Movement Reconsidered: Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie, and their Contemporaries , edited by Zachary Leader.
Blake Morrison had already analysed this in his The Movement: English Poetry and Fiction of the 1950s, published in 1980, but in this current collection of essays he raises the ante. “Larkin is the greatest English poet of the second half of the twentieth century and Amis the greatest comic novelist . . . (Davie) the outstanding critic . . .”. Philip Larkin modestly agrees:
“We shall have stamped our taste on the age between us in the end”, he boasts to his crony, Amis. But the most hilarious essay here is Terry Castle’s The Lesbianism of Philip Larkin. Larkin was known to have a penchant for pornography, but I did not realise he wrote schoolgirl stories, “full of games mistresses, mash notes, and lubricious hijinks after lights out”. The author speculates that Larkin might have been (like Ernest Hemingway!) the male equivalent of a “fag-hag”.