Philip Larkin’s (Let’s Say…) Complicated Personal Life Is on Display in New Exhibit
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Plus the Tolkien estate and Warner Bros. settle their blood feud
The day after a long weekend necessarily comes with a whole torrent of literary news we may have missed during our days off. In today’s roundup, a new exhibit about English poet Philip Larkin explores his dark interests and tendencies, a hefty $80 mill lawsuit between the Tolkien estate and Warner Bros. has settled, Chelsea Clinton has no choice but to speak about her mother and America’s political climate, thanks to a new children’s book, and late rockstar Warren Zevon’s books will soon be up for grabs.
New Philip Larkin exhibit explores his long unseen dark side
The controversy surrounding Philip Larkin emerged posthumously, when revelations regarding his obsession with pornography, his conservative views, and indications of racism marred his reputation. An exhibit in Hull’s Brynmor Jones library (where he was the librarian) has now opened to explore the life, experiences, and complexities of the English poet. The exhibit features hundreds of personal items, including books, clothes, photographs, and notes, most of which were once in Larkin’s home and have not been seen by the public. The women of Larkin’s life are featured in the exhibit, revealing his mistreatment of them and his own problems with intimacy. Also on display are the empty spines of diaries that the poet asked to be shredded after his death, which are now thought to have contained pornography, and a figurine of Hitler given to him by his father. The exhibition’s theme is pink, Larkin’s favorite color, and at the end of the show visitors are asked to write a letter to Larkin that will be pinned on the wall.
So, in short, “Annus Mirabilis” fans — prepare to have your mettle tested.
[The Guardian/Hannah Ellis-Petersen]
$80m lawsuit between Tolkien estate and Warner Bros. finally settled
If there’s anything to not be messed with, it’s J.R.R. Tolkien’s legacy — unless you want an $80 million lawsuit, that is. In 2012, the Tolkien estate sued Warner Bros. for breaching their contract and breaking copyright laws by merchandising Tolkien’s beloved book characters. However, the lawsuit has now officially been settled — 5 years later. The initial agreements between the two sides were made in 1969, and granted Warner Bros. access to selling physical property (figurines, stationary, clothing, etc.). By moving beyond that scope into digital and online promotion, the entertainment company was allegedly harming the English fantasy writer’s legacy. Specifically, the lawsuit noted the online gambling game “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring: Online Slot Game.” The lawsuit said, “Fans have publicly expressed confusion and consternation at seeing ‘The Lord of the Rings’ associated with the morally questionable (and decidedly nonliterary) world of online and casino gambling.” The terms of the settlement remain confidential. Still, we’ve all learned a valuable lesson here. You play the Tolkien slots, you’re going to get burned — ’cause the house always wins.
[NY Times/Sopan Deb]
Chelsea Clinton is still being asked to answer for her mother & America
If you thought Chelsea Clinton might get a bit of respite on the children’s book circuit, think again. Her new children’s bestseller, named for the new feminist battle cry — She Persisted: 13 American Women Who Changed the World — steers clear of mentioning her mother in the book, aside from her brief cameo in a museum painting, captioned “Sometimes, being a girl isn’t easy.” But at recent promotional events, the author has been faced with questions from the kids such as, “How do we persist in resisting Donald Trump?” and “One day would you like to be president?” In an interview with The Washington Post, Chelsea Clinton said she did not want the recent election to overshadow the stories of the other women celebrated in the book, such as Helen Keller, Oprah Winfrey, and Harriet Tubman. Good luck with that. If there’s one subset of the population not exactly known for its ability to quit it with the persistent questions — why? how come? — it’s kids.
[The Washington Post/Nora Krug]
Warren Zevon’s large book collection to go on sale
Who doesn’t want to get their hands on a rockstar’s book collection? Warren Zevon’s eclectic library collection is going on sale, featuring signed copies with personal notes addressed to the late singer and songwriter. (Don’t pretend like you don’t know his biggest hit — “Werewolves of London.” Ah-oooo.) The library contains nearly 1,000 books, among them novels by his friends Carl Hiaasen and Stephen King. The books are being sold to raise money for a retreat and community center in Vermont started by Zevon’s ex-wife and daughter, a space that aims to be a safe haven for activists, artists, educational communities, and the like. Scattered among the pages on the block are personal items that the singer filed in there, including restaurant receipts, plane tickets, letters, and itineraries. Zevon never graduated high school, but loved to read, talk about books, and hang out with authors. The extensive collection is now being catalogued and will gradually be sold on eBay.
[The Washington Post/Lisa Rathke]