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The Alvarez GenerationThom Gunn, Geoffrey Hill, Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Peter Porter$
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William Wootten

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781781381632

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781381632.001.0001

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date: 23 October 2017

Against Extremism

Against Extremism

Chapter:
(p.153) Chapter Eleven Against Extremism
Source:
The Alvarez Generation
Author(s):

William Wootten

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781781381632.003.0011

This chapter considers the attacks against Alvarez's extremism. In the 1960s and 1970s, there appeared something like a sub-genre devoted to attacking the notion of extremism in verse. Charles Tomlinson's ‘Against Extremity’, from his 1969 collection The Way of the World, was particularly outspoken and unpleasant, referring to how ‘That girl’ who nearly took her own life before writing a book. Roy Fisher, a late modernist poet also declared: ‘The poets are dying because they have been told to die’. The fiercest and most comprehensive sally came from a bright young Scottish academic named Veronica Forrest-Thomson, who inveighed against: the suicide merchants who say in effect, ‘no one can become a great poet unless he has at least tried killing himself’. The chapter goes on to discuss the similarities between Sylvia Plath and Forrest-Thomson, as well as the latter's poetry.

Keywords:   extremism, poets, poetry, A. Alvarez, Sylvia Plath, Charles Tomlinson, Roy Fisher, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, suicide

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