Frank Kermode

  • The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s by Humphrey Carpenter
    Allen Lane, 244 pp, £18.99, September 2002, ISBN 0 7139 9532 7

Humphrey Carpenter is a practised biographer; he can do groups as well as single persons, but he admits that this group set him a new problem, which was that he remained throughout unsure whether it really existed. The Movement (a rather localised, mostly Oxford affair) and the Angry Young Men (more London, more of the theatre) were certainly the inventions of journalists, but they took on a kind of reality when the public was induced to view the young men in terms of those inventions, and also when the writers concerned noticed that the mirror of gossip did, however distortedly, reflect them. And whatever they thought they were doing, they could hardly not know that it would give rise to large, vague speculations about the cultural condition of England.

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