The Alvarez Generation

Thom Gunn, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Peter Porter

William Wootten

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ISBN: 9781781381632

Publication: May 5, 2015

In the USA? Buy the Hardback US edition
This book is the biography of a taste in poetry and its consequences. During the 1950s and 1960s, a generation of poets appeared who would eschew the restrained manner of Movement poets such as Philip Larkin, a generation who would, in the words of the introduction to A. Alvarez’s classic anthology The New Poetry, take poetry ‘Beyond the Gentility Principle’. This was the generation of Thom Gunn, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Peter Porter. William Wootten explores what these five poets shared in common, their connections, critical reception, rivalries and differences, and locates what was new and valuable in their work. The Alvarez Generation is an important re-evaluation of a time when contemporary poetry and its criticism had a cultural weight it has now lost and when a ‘new seriousness’ was to become closely linked to questions of violence, psychic unbalance and, most controversially of all, suicide.

William Wootten is a literary journalist, writing for the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement and the Guardian. He is Lecturer in English Literature (Poetry & Creative Writing) at the University of Bristol.

Preface Part I 1. Beginnings: Oxford and Cambridge Poetry in the early 1950s 2. ‘A Violent Time’: Anti-Movement Poetry in the mid to late 1950s 3. In Opposite Directions: A. Alvarez and Thom Gunn 4. Against Gentility 5. On Being Serious 6. Anthology Making 7. First Reactions: 'The Review' Debate and the Initial Response to 'The New Poetry' Part II 8. Sylvia Plath Part III 9. Going to Extremes 10. ‘A Study of Suicide’ Part IV 11. ‘Against Extremism’ 12. Costing Seriousness 13. ‘I Don’t Like Dramatising Myself’: anti-confessionalism in the later poetry of Thom Gunn 14. 'Birthday Letters' 15. Geoffrey Hill’s New Poetry 16. Children of 'The New Poetry' Index

The Alvarez Generation is an illuminating, provocative and important book... Though briefer, it is as significant as Blake Morrison’s 'The Movement'.
Sean O'Brien  

A well-researched, gracefully-written and important book about a formative period in British and Irish poetry. Wootten has established himself as a fine critic.
Patrick McGuinness  

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

224 Pages

ISBN: 9781781381632

Publication: May 5, 2015

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