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Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 163–170 | Cite as

A Random Blend: The Self in Philip Larkin’s Poems “Ambulances” and “The Building”

  • Neil Pickering
Symposium

Abstract

In two of his great poems, “Ambulances” and “The Building,” Philip Larkin considers a deep fear about human individuality. The fear is that the human self is contingent and disjunctive, lacking any integrity or unity. The arrival of an ambulance on an urban curb and a visit to the hospital are the occasion of reflection on this form of human fragility. But more significant, the ambulance and the hospital are imagined as contexts in which the contingency of the human individual is brought out and laid before us.

Keywords

Philip Larkin The self Human individuality Ambulances Hospitals 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I would like to acknowledge the guidance and comments of Lynne Bowyer, Grant Gillett, and the very thoughtful remarks of the anonymous reviewers of the Journal of Bioethical Inquiry.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bioethics Centre – Te Pokapū Matatika KoioraDivision of Health SciencesDunedinNew Zealand

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