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This review is taken from PN Review 193, Volume 36 Number 5, May - June 2010.

A COMMON POINT OF INTERSECTION The Movement Reconsidered, edited by Zachary Leader (OUP) £18.99

In mid-October 1954 Kingsley Amis writes to Philip Larkin: ‘Well, what a load of bullshit all that was in the Spr about the new movt. etc. Useful up to a point, but the point is nearly here, I feel…’. By this point, the ‘Movement’-inaugurating article in the Spectator has been published as well as New Poems 1953, and the First Reading broadcasts have taken place. By 1956, during which Larkin and Amis’s ‘All Aboard the Gravy Train’ parodies had been written and the first New Lines anthology had been published, the public apparatus of ‘The Movement’, whatever its nominal participants may have felt about it, had been brought into existence.

For the most part, essays dealing with the Movement begin with this idea of rejection, the distance that the participants in the Movement put between themselves and the appellation. In the most part, these accounts also begin with Amis and Larkin, extending to John Wain, Thom Gunn, Donald Davie, Robert Conquest, John Holloway, D.J. Enright, G.S. Fraser and Elizabeth Jennings. Zachary Leader’s introduction to this edited collection of essays, The Movement Reconsidered, is no different. In fact, Leader quotes copiously from the Larkin-Amis correspondence of the time, and indeed from many other letters which engaged first-hand, almost always wittily, with this emerging, rejected, phenomenon. Particularly interesting is a quotation from Evelyn Waugh (in a letter to the Spectator): ‘Please let the young people of today get on with their work alone and be treated to the courtesy ...


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