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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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In Opposite Directions: A. Alvarez and Thom Gunn

In Opposite Directions: A. Alvarez and Thom Gunn

(p.29) Chapter Three In Opposite Directions: A. Alvarez and Thom Gunn
The Alvarez Generation

William Wootten

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on literary journalist A. Alvarez and his views on the work of Thom Gunn. Alvarez, who was appointed poetry editor of the Observer in 1956, was primarily an academic through much of the 1950s. He studied and taught at Oxford and at Princeton, where he was a protégé of R. P. Blackmur. His university posts resulted in two critical books aimed largely at an academic audience: The Shaping Spirit (1958) about the poetry of English and American modernism, and The School of Donne (1960) on the metaphysical poets. Alvarez was initially an admirer of Gunn, who was as Donnean poet as he could have wished for. He would later change his mind, claiming that ‘apart from a handful of early poems, Gunn has never shown much interest in the style of exacerbated intensity that attracted his Cambridge contemporary, Ted Hughes’.

Keywords:   A. Alvarez, Thomas Gunn, poetry, poets, literary journalists, The Shaping Spirit, The School of Donne

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