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Title: Movement writing and the question of audience, 1946-1957
Author: Hargrave, R.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2007
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This thesis is a study of the Movement writers, the group of novelists, critics and poets who rose to prominence in the British literary press in the late 1940s and 1950s, among whom are included Philip Larkin, Kingsley Amis and John Wain. It focuses on the enduring anxiety displayed by these writers about the potential audience for their work, and especially upon the competing values of writing addressed to a narrow, specialist audience, and that addressed to a larger non-specialist public. The thesis investigates some of the historical and cultural reasons why ‘the question of audience’ may have seemed so pressing at this time. It looks at the contradictions these writers encountered in their attempts to identify ‘the reading public’, and at the Movement’s place within the literary society of post-war Britain. The first two chapters examine some of the dominant intellectual figures of the 1930s and 1940s, and the impact their attitudes towards reading audiences had upon the Movement writers. Chapter One explores the legacy in Movement writing of the model for ‘minority culture’ advocated by F. R. Leavis and the Scrutiny circle; Chapter Two argues that an alternative, public-spirited voice in serious writing is evident in work by three of Leavis’s contemporaries: George Orwell, A. J. Ayer and William Empson. Chapter Three looks at the attempt to project an ideal ‘implied audience’ in the Movement’s non-fiction prose. Chapter Four uses bibliographical and biographical material to unpick the actual audience that Movement writing commanded through small press publishing, contributions to periodicals and broadcasts over BBC radio. The final three chapters provide close-readings of Movement poetry. Chapter Six examines John Wain’s Mixed Feelings (1951) and Kingsley Amis’s A Frame of Mind (1953); Chapter Seven looks at Elizabeth Jennings’s Poems (1953) and A Way of Looking (1955); Chapter Eight looks at Philip Larkin’s The Less Deceived (1955).
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available