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Print Price: $80.00

320 pp.
8 black-and-white halftones, 138 mm x 216 mm


Publication date:
June 2009

Imprint: OUP UK

The Movement Reconsidered

Essays on Larkin, Amis, Gunn, Davie and Their Contemporaries

Edited by Zachary Leader

The Movement was the preeminent poetical grouping of post-war Britain. 'We shall have stamped our taste on the age between us in the end', boasted its most important poet, Philip Larkin, of his and Kingsley Amis's influence. That Larkin's boast proved well-founded even those who deplored Movement taste have agreed. According to Randall Stevenson, author of volume 12 of the Oxford English Literary History, English literature 'was never more static than under the influence of the Movement. If the later twentieth century proved a difficult period for poetry, it was in large measure because it took so long to realise this, and move on.' Moving on, though, was just what the Movement writers - Larkin, Amis, Thom Gunn, Donald Davie, Robert Conquest, John Wain, D.J. Enright, Elizabeth Jennings, and John Holloway - thought they were doing, even when deploring innovation and experiment. Was their influence, as detractors claim, stultifying, a lament for 'England gone'? What, moreover, of other charges: that Movement writing is dry, academic, insular? These accusations are as extreme as the anti-modernist accusations that sparked them, in particular those of Amis, Larkin, Conquest, and Davie.

The Movement Reconsidered, a collection of original essays by distinguished poets, critics, and scholars from Britain and America, sets out to show not only that relations between Movement and other post-war British writers were more complex and nuanced than is usually suggested, but that the role these relations played in shaping the current literary scene is important and complicated. Other topics it examines include the origins of the grouping; the role of mediating figures such as Auden, Empson, and Orwell; the part the writers themselves played in promoting the grouping; the interlocking network of academics, journalists, and editors who aided them; and analogous developments in other fields, notably philosophy, politics, and language. The book's ultimate aim is to encourage readers to come to Movement writing with fresh eyes and to gain a fairer sense of its range and power.

Readership : Anyone with an interest in twentieth-century poetry

Zachary Leader: Introduction
1. Blake Morrison: 'Still Going On, All of It': The Movement in the 1950s and the Movement Today
2. Nicholas Jenkins: The 'Truth of Skies': Auden, Larkin and the English Question
3. Craig Raine: Counter-intuitive Larkin
4. Terry Castle: The Lesbianism of Philip Larkin
5. James Fenton: Kingsley Amis: Against Fakery
6. Colin McGinn: Philosophy and Literature in the 1950s: The Rise of the 'Ordinary Bloke'
7. Deborah Cameron: 'The Virtues of Good Prose': Verbal Hygiene and the Movement
8. Deborah Bowman: 'An Instrument of Articulation': Empson and the Movement
9. Karl Miller: Boys of the Move
10. Alan Jenkins: 'I Thought I Was So Tough': Thom Gunn's Postures for Combat
11. Clive Wilmer: In and Out of the Movement: Donald Davie and Thom Gunn
12. William H. Pritchard: Donald Davie, The Movement, and Modernism
13. Anthony Thwaite: How It Seemed Then
14. Eric Homberger: <i>New Lines</i> in 1956
15. Michael O'Neill: 'Fond of What He's Crapping On': Movement Poetry and Romanticism
16. Rachel Buxton: Elizabeth Jennings and Rome
17. Robert Conquest: New Lines, Movements, and Modernisms

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Zachary Leader is Professor of English Literature at Roehampton University. He has also taught at Cambridge, Harvard, Caltech, Université Rennes 2, Haute Bretagne, and the University of Chicago. He is a scholar of the English Romantic Period as well as of modern British and American writing. Among his books are studies of <i>William Blake's Songs of Innocence and of Experience</i> (1981), writer's block (1991) and revision and romantic authorship (1996). He has edited the Oxford Authors Shelley (with Michael O'Neill, 2003), an anthology of non-canonical Romantic period writings (with Ian Haywood, 1999), the letters of Kingsley Amis (2000), and a volume of original essays on modern British fiction (2002). His biography of Kingsley Amis was published in 2006 and was one of three finalists for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. In 2008 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and began work on a life of the American novelist Saul Bellow.

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Special Features

  • New and important accounts of Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis, Thom Gunn, Donald Davie, Robert Conquest, John Wain, D.J. Enright, Elizabeth Jennings, and John Holloway - who formed the preeminent and perhaps most controversial poetical grouping of post-war Britain, known as 'The Movement'
  • A collection of original essays by an impressive line-up of contributors, including several of the best-known and most highly regarded of contemporary British poets, literary journalists, editors, scholars of English, a linguist and a philosopher
  • Includes chapters providing the first detailed accounts of the relation between Movement writing and analogous philosophical and linguistic trends in the 1950s and 1960s
  • Features writers with first-hand knowledge of the people and events about whom they write, including an essay by Robert Conquest, the last surviving member of the grouping