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Literature, Criticism, and Politics in the Early New Left, 1956–62

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-75
Number of pages25
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number1
Early online date30 Nov 2015
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


King's Authors


The first New Left defined itself through literature in a number of ways. Ideas of ‘Socialist Humanism’ and the politically committed artist were formed against the backdrop of both the repudiation of both Communism and Capitalism as ideologies, as well as against the conservative metropolitan scene which dominated British literary life. The New Left was intellectually and culturally shaped by its response to the ‘Angry Young men’ generation of writers of the early 1950s and by its championing of ‘New Wave’ theatre. The political, social, and intellectual content of the New Left can be better understood through its cultural context. Though short-lived, the early New Left nurtured a significant range of literary and cultural talent.

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