The Larkin Amis friendship

P11_Powell_Web_377329hNeil Powell at the Times Literary Supplement:

The best recipe for a successful literary friendship, as perhaps for any other sort, is a solid base of common ingredients spiced with touches of absolute difference: English literature’s most celebrated double acts – Wordsworth and Coleridge, Auden and Isherwood, Amis and Larkin – are all like that. Each pair has a background of broadly compatible class and education, shared background interests and cultural tastes; yet as writers they diverge in ways that both sustain and endanger their relationships. Kingsley Amis had an explicit, if ironic, sense of the footsteps in which he and Philip Larkin were following: “Well with you as the Auden and me as the Isherwood de nos jours, ‘our society’ is not doing so bad”, he told his friend in October 1957.

That date – on the face of things quite a late one for a pair who had met at Oxford sixteen years earlier – is in itself significant. Until the mid-1950s, it hadn’t been at all certain who was to be the Auden and who the Isherwood. That became clear not so much with the publication as with the critical reception of Amis’s Lucky Jim in 1954 and Larkin’s The Less Deceived in 1955.

more here.