Literature, Culture and Society in Postwar England, 1945-1965

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Literature, Culture and Society in Postwar England, 1945-1965 is a study of how writers from very different backgrounds represented the changes taking place in English society after the Second World War. Originally published in 2002, this book gives original, detailed readings of neglected traditions of working-class writing, women's writing, and black writing in England, and explores how these writers dealt with the contentious issues of class, gender, sexuality, and race which began to become visible as fissures in a society slowly recovering from war.


"[This work] enlarges the literary terrain through analyses of important works by Nell Dunn, John Petty, Samuel Selvon, Rose Macauley, and others. He focuses on the writers and their characters contentious engagement with a society in transition, struggling against its conservatism and revealing new voices and new experience. The final two chapters on postcolonial (immigrant) writings and the English West Indian renaissance provide substantial and insightful treatment of the voce of the periphery speaking through the language of the center and thus exemplifying a new hybridity. Highly recommended for upper-division undergraduates and above." - CHOICE

". . . a serious attempt to redress the balance in favour of a more inclusive and wider version of English postwar writing. It necessarily pays proper attention to the canon, considering in detail the reasons why Amis, Osborne, and Larkin, in particular, have come to stand for the values of the period. There is a very lucid account of the cultural and historical contexts that made such writers appear innovative to their first audiences. But there is also a highly critical re-reading of the key texts of the Angry Young Men and of the Movement poets which establishes their inherent conservativism, and documents their retreat into a less-than-cosy domesticity and their nostalgia for some non-existent golden age and moral certainty. . . . it really does tell a different story than the usual platitudes about the postwar period. It is a well-researched and inclusive book that is able all the same to wear its learning and its theoretical underpinnings lightly. . . . highly readable and lucid." - Ruth Robbins

"An impressive volume. It is written with a sense of urgency and intellectual acuity, combined with a sharp political sensibility. . . . a comprehensive sense of the history of the post-war period, its literature and culture, and a highly accessible style, which is both engaged and engaging." -Julian Wolfreys

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Preface by Adrian Page
Introduction: After the War
1. ‘Scenes from Provincial Life’: The New Conservativism of the Angry Young Men
2. ‘The Crude Poetry of the Rejected’: Working-Class Writing and the Affluent Society
3. ‘Free Women’: Writing, Feminism and the Social Consensus
4. ‘The Secret Burden’: Literature, Homosexuality and the Law
5. ‘In Pursuit of the English’: Postcolonial Representation of Postwar England
6. ‘The Regions Caesar Never Knew’: The West Indian Literary Renaissance in England
Afterwords: Beyond Anger
Bibliography; Index

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