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Sunny Prestatyn

Philip Larkin

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The Death of the Author
Added by: Andrew Mayers
These musings were prompted partly by the comments on ‘This Be The Verse’.

No doubt there are those who would try to persuade us that this is a poem that decries vandalism and uses rude words to do it. A psychoanalytical reading would certainly make much of Titch’s choice of a “tuberous cock and balls” to deface the image. The fact that the image is of a woman would be seized upon by feminist critics (once again we see violence against women and the aggressive assertion of male sexuality). I am sure a Marxist reading would do a good job of highlighting the social and economic inequalities that produce both the poster and Titch Thomas. In the UK at least, it is true that life expectancy is, to a degree, dependent upon economic factors and that the more socially and economically disadvantaged are more susceptible to diseases like cancer. Yes, the poem can be deconstructed to reveal altogether different observations from my own. Death itself can become just another text whose ‘meaning’ is determined either by ideologies or other texts.
The critic Graham Holderness complains about the last line:
“The poem’s conclusion constitutes the most powerful indictment of Larkin’s empiricism, his unwillingness to probe beneath the surface. Fight Cancer signifies a disillusioned acknowledgement that nature can decompose and ravage the body as effectively as Titch Thomas’s penknife violated the poster. All the emphasis is on cancer: the poet (and most of his critics) pay no attention at all to the other word, ‘fight’. To ‘fight’ cancer is precisely to deny the necessity for resignation; to acknowledge that life contains pain and death, while refusing to accept that they cannot be opposed, combated, challenged. The fact that Larkin can regard a poster calling on people to struggle against a great life-destroyer merely as a depressing destroyer of illusions, will sufficiently indicate the limitations of his world-view and of his poetry.”

But why should Larkin have any obligation to champion the fight? And isn’t it important that the illusion is destroyed? The real obscenity is not in Titch’s defacement, but in the dissemination of advertising images that exploit our unhappiness and discontentment with the callous pretence that the kodachrome perfection of such images is attainable. Titch Thomas, however destructive, is at least more honest than those responsible for the poster.
Sunny Prestatyn
Added by: Simon Ali

The initial ideology of Sunny Prestatyn is one of disgust and exasperation from Larkin due to the poster’s destruction. He yearned for the acquirement of love and through pictures and objects he naturally obtained his kicks. This is found in ‘The Large Cool Store’ where he observes the ladies’ lingerie section in the mass store that ‘sells cheap clothes.’ He is excited by the wild colours and women’s’ night ware. Like ‘Sunny Prestatyn’ he sees women as a sexual object and thus, connotes images and ideas as he looks intricately. ‘Spread breasts-lifting arms.’ There is a prominent sexual tone to the poem. The ‘cock and balls’ and then the signature of ‘TITCH’ is just another overture of the penis reference. The vandals are immature and have nothing better to do, so they deface the woman and leave childish names such as ‘Titch.’

Larkin dislikes the state of society and earmarks this by showing the audience how an innocent picture is destroyed. He also disliked commercialism and advertisements that portrayed a superficial life. This can be found in ‘Essential Beauty’ where he mocks the media’s fake portrayal of an idealistic society. Larkin was merely a realistic man, with realistic views. However, other may interpret otherwise.
Added by: caron
sunny prestatyn is about the unfulfilled lives of the people in larkins poetry,despite the increasing prosperity of post war england. the attack on the poster is because for people like titch thomas this can never become reality. larkin as always brings the harsh reality back to the reader at the end, with "now fight cancer is there" this poster represents a really threat to the people of this society.its the harsh reality of life unlike the laughing girl in tauten white satin.
Added by: Liz
Prestatyn is glorified by the poster and yet it has never been the most popular seaside destination because it faces north, the sun is in the "wrong place". That which is lauded is ultimately flawed. In light of this the vandalism of the poster seems even more futile.

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