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Great hates 2: Kingsley Amis

By Tom Chatfield  

In English letters, few correspondents can have been more scurrilously, mutually offensive about so many others for such a long time than Kingsley Amis and Philip Larkin, who deserve headline billing in any compendium of malcontents. Plenty of what they wrote was witty and wonderful, and plenty was nakedly, nastily self-revealing. These are the two sides of the hate coin.

Take this passage, from a letter of 5th Dec 1980 from Amis to Larkin. Kingsley had recently returned from a trip to find that his second wife, the novelist Elizabeth Jane Howard, had finally walked out on him. Here, he…

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