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This article is taken from PN Review 108, Volume 22 Number 4, March - April 1996.

Making Tracks Neil Powell

Almost thirty years ago, in the autumn of 1966, I became an undergraduate at the new University of Warwick: 'went up to' seems the wrong term now, though I'd have used it proudly enough then. My secondary motive was to take a degree in English and American Literature; my primary one was to edit the first substantial literary magazine from the new universities of the 1960s - a combination of idealism and ambition as characteristic of my age as it was of the Age, and perhaps not so disreputable when viewed from warier, recessional days.

Warwick and I had chosen each other in a spirit of accidental benevolence which would make today's market-force-fed undergraduates cringe. There'd been some sensible articles, under the heading 'The Idea of an English School', in a magazine called The Critical Survey - an offshoot of Cox and Dyson's Critical Quarterly - in which professors outlined the aims of their departments: that, and the no-nonsense prospectus, and the notion that it was time for a home counties child to take a look at the midlands, had made Warwick my first choice. There'd also been the good advice that since you can't tell in advance whether you'll like living in a different place (whatever anyone else says), you may as well concentrate on whether you'll like what you're going to do there. With the European Epic at one end, contemporary American literature at the other, and just about everything else available inbetween, Warwick seemed ...

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