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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: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789627947

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789627947.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 29 June 2022

Against Extremism

Against Extremism

(p.153) Chapter Eleven Against Extremism
The Alvarez Generation

William Wootten

Liverpool University Press

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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