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This article is taken from PN Review 156, Volume 30 Number 4, March - April 2004.

The Burning Baby and the Bathwater 9: 'Muddying Inclusivity' James Keery

9: `Muddying Inclusivity'

There is much to be said for the identification of the Apocalypse with the 1940s. Its moment extended well into the second half of the decade, often dismissed as a doldrums or a lingering hangover. Nevertheless, the rediscovery of the manifesto is a reminder that the movement - not to mention the entire contents of The New Apocalypse and all but the last issue of Seven - was a product of the previous decade. Not to mention them, in fact - here's a surprise - is the strategy favoured by most scholars of the 1930s.

Samuel Hynes is a fair sample. The Auden Generation was warmly acclaimed and is invariably cited with respect.1 Under the title of MacSpaunday and Co., the book would deserve its reputation. A litmus test of enthusiasm for `the Auden Gang' would be Stephen Spender's anthology piece, `I think continually of those who were truly great'.2 Hynes turns a healthy shade of pink: `The vision is a noble and affirmative one, and the poem is very moving, and very youthful'.3 So, incidentally, did Randall Jarrell. The thought that this effusion `should ever have been greeted with anything but helpless embarrassment' made him `ashamed of the planet upon which I dwell'.4

Hynes's subtitle, however, insists on the comprehensiveness of his project: Literature and Politics in England in the 1930s. Considered as an engagement with the writing of the decade as a whole, The Auden Generation is inadequate. ...


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