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Explication of A Study of Reading Habits

Explication of "A Study of Reading Habits" "A Study of Reading Habits," is Philip Larkins poetic warning that escapism and ignoring reality only makes real life less fulfilling. Larkin develops this idea via a narrator who prefers to escape from life rather than deal with it, as well as through changing use of language and subtle irony.Larkins most direct expression of his warning comes through the narrators experience with escapism through books. The narrator reveals his changing attitudes toward books in three stanzas, representing three stages in his life: childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. As a child, reading as an escape enabled the narrator to feel better about "most things short of school" (line 2). As an adolescent, books continued to be a form of escape for him, this time for his unfulfilled sexual desires. However, as an adult "now," the narrator embodies Larkin's warning. He is bitter and resentful that life is less glamorous than books, now only able to relate to the secondary, less important characters. The method he once used to escape now makes reality painfully obvious.The idealized reality that the narrator dreams of at each point in his life is reflected in the authors language use. The description of childhood escape contains clichs found in childrens adventure books, such as "keep cool," "the old right hook," and "dirty dogs." As an adolescent, the descriptions are more mysterious and sexual, including references to Dracula and to rape. The descriptions as an adult are the most casual and slangy, suggesting a decline in the narrators intellect, the result of complete indifference. At this point he sees reality for all that it is, and finds this unfulfilling compared to his earlier idealizations.The author drives this point home with a number of ironies throughout the poem. The title suggests a formal paper; quite the opposite of the colloquial language Larkin uses. This symbolizes the motif that what appears to...

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