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This report is taken from PN Review 206, Volume 38 Number 6, July - August 2012.

Serious Pleasures Neil Powell
Fifty years ago, in the spring of 1962, a new literary magazine emerged (as they do) from Oxford. It was called THE REVIEW, in caps, although it would soon transform itself more stylishly into the Review, with that distinctive lower-case 't'. For the time being, it was all undesigned Gill Sans and it looked like a railway timetable from the 1930s. The observant trend-spotter, once he'd got past the typography, might have identified various component parts: a nucleus of young, bright university people; a respectful inclusion of their elders (and, in one case, father); an interest in translation; and a distinct critical snarl, with the pseudonymous Edward Pygge already laying into one harmless old codger as 'Toweringly pretentious, intricately boring, and painstakingly derivative'. At the heart of the magazine was a fifteen-page 'Discussion' between A. Alvarez and Donald Davie, introduced as a debate between 'a new seriousness' and 'a new aestheticism'. But the only real hint that the editor, Ian Hamilton, thought he was laying down the foundations for a literary empire was the strange announcement that 'THE REVIEW is a Nexus Publication', which looked a bit grandiose next to an address in Woodstock Road (I've always thought that Colin Dexter missed a trick in not giving Inspector Morse a case to solve among the murderous poets and critics of North Oxford).

There were publishers' advertisements, for these were the days in which proper publishers still took space in little magazines, among which a full page headed 'Poetry from ...


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