Alice Ferrebe’s study rereads the decade and its literature as crucial in twentieth-century British history for its emergent and increasingly complicated politics of difference, as ideas about identity, authority and belonging were tested and contested. By placing a diverse selection of texts alongside those of the established canon of Movement and ‘Angry’ writing, a literary culture of true diversity and depth is brought into view. The volume characterises the 1950s as a time of confrontation with a range of concerns still avidly debated today, including immigration, education, the challenging behaviour of youth, nuclear threat, the post-industrial and post-imperial legacy, a consumerist economy and a feminist movement hampered by the perceivedly comprehensive nature of its recent success. Contrary to Jimmy Porter’s defeatist judgement on his era in John Osborne’s 1956 play Look Back in Anger, the volume upholds such concerns as ‘good, brave causes’ indeed.
Literature of the 1950s: Good Brave Causes was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2012.