Francis Wheen

Epater Les Highbrows

John Betjeman: His Life and Work

By

Allen Lane 192pp £9.95 order from our bookshop

‘It is unlikely’ Patrick Taylor-Martin writes, ‘that even Betjeman’s most fervent admirers would claim that he was a major poet.’ Is that so? What, then, are we to make ofchristopher Booker’s claim that ‘A Lament for Moira ‘McCavendish’ is the most heartrending poem in the English language? How are we to take the constant adulation of Betjeman by literary skinheads such as Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin? The truth is that there are quite a few people who do argue that John Betjeman is a-major poet – even if they do it only pour épater les highbrows. 

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