This article considers the use made of William Blake by a range of writers associated with the ‘countercultural’ milieu of the 1960s, particularly those linked to its London-based literary context. Iain Sinclair is offered as a writer who, in his appreciation of Blake, stands apart from the poets linked to the anthology, Children of Albion (1969). The article unpacks this distinction, analysing Sinclair’s ‘topographic’ take in comparison to the ‘visionary’ mode of his contemporaries. Having established this dualism, the argument then questions the nature of the visionary poetics assumed to apply to the likes of key poets from the era. The work of Michael Horovitz is brought into view, as is that of Harry Fainlight. In essence, these multiple discourses point to the plurality of Blake as a figure of influence and the variation underpinning his literary utility in post-1960s poetry.
The novísimos and the cultural transition (mid-1960s–1980) The poetry written in Spain in the 1970s, the starting point of this anthology, is a clear departure from the poetic tradition that immediately preceded it. Towards the final stages of Franco’s dictatorship, and as early as the end of the 1960s, a certain air of change was evident and manifested itself in the works of young Spanish poets. The changes that were slowly starting to take place, namely economic developments due to tourism and significant foreign investments, and the passing of vital Planes de
5 ‘The war has done strange things to you’ – trauma in the 1960s and 1970s As medic, Rat Kiley carried a canvas satchel filled with morphine and plasma and malaria tablets and surgical tape and comic books. (Tim O’Brien, The Things They Carried, 1990) America was both a source and subject of traumatic violence in the 1960s and 1970s. The violence of these decades was such that Adam Lowenstein positions contemporary discourse as indicative of a nation verging on ‘tearing itself in half’ over a series of increasingly polarized and contested divisions.1 The prime
7 ‘We are a species that fears itself most of all’ – race in the 1960s and 1970s During the 1940s and 1950s, as previously established, people of colour were underrepresented in comics. In the 1970s, publishers, who had once readily evoked racist stereotypes, were now cautious of causing offence but uncertain as to how to reach new, and retain old, markets. They thus tended either to approach the question of race through allegory or simply to omit people of colour from their works. While many comics publishers were broadly opposed to overt racism, they
6 ‘This isn’t a dream! This is really happening!’ – gender in the 1960s and 1970s During the 1950s, the presence of women in both blue- and white-collar jobs, coupled with the trauma inflicted on male bodies and psyches during the Second World War, disrupted privileged models of the American household. The seeds sown during this time slowly blossomed in the following decades. The 1960s and 1970s gave rise to a widescale movement that sought to challenge entrenched views of gender in US culture. Those who fought for women’s rights during the early twentieth
The Gothic is the discourse which embodies the dialectic of the Enlightenment, with its potential to push the frontier of reason into the mythologized darkness. Embarking on the use of genre fiction as political discourse and finding a voice to tell a story of her generation, Carter made a major breakthrough in her career. Making use of the Gothic palimpsest, Carters Marianne leaves behind the sphere of (feminine) ‘interiority’-the psychic spaces of desire and anxiety for the (supposedly masculine) catharsis in the Other world, as a sixties heroine of sensibility. Heroes and Villains calls for the reconstruction of enlightenment at the ‘post-modern’ ruins of civilization.
This book is a comprehensive critical introduction to one of the most original contemporary British writers, providing an overview of all of Iain Sinclair's major works and an analysis of his vision of modern London. It places Sinclair in a range of contexts, including: the late 1960s counter-culture and the British Poetry Revival; London's underground histories; the rise and fall of Thatcherism; and Sinclair's writing about Britain under New Labour and Sinclair's connection to other writers and artists, such as J.G. Ballard, Michael Moorcock and Marc Atkins. The book contributes to the growing scholarship surrounding Sinclair's work, covering in detail his poetry, fiction, non-fiction (including his book on John Clare, Edge of the Orison), and his film work. Using a generally chronological structure, it traces the on-going themes in Sinclair's writing, such as the uncovering of lost histories of London, the influence of visionary writings, and the importance of walking in the city, and more recent developments in his texts, such as the focus on spaces outside of London and his filmic collaborations with Chris Petit. The book provides a critically informed discussion of Sinclair's work using a variety of approaches.
For several years now, James Baldwin’s life, portrait, and work have enjoyed a central place in the public eye. Although social and audiovisual media have made significant contributions to Baldwin’s return to the cultural and political limelight, the circulation of his published writings remains a vital part of the author’s ubiquity. Moreover, since Baldwin’s omnipresence in bookstores transcends an American or even Anglophone context, this international and multilingual circulation contributes to Baldwin’s world literary standing, as befits the self-described “transatlantic commuter.” This article moves beyond the customary approach to Baldwin’s published success by tracing presently circulating European translations of his work. The article examines the historical developments in Baldwin’s European circulation-through-translation from the time of his death (1987) up until the present, including brief discussions of the French, Italian, and West German translations from the 1960s onward. Of special interest are the pioneering and dominant roles that French and Italian publishers have played since the late 1990s, and the acceleration in circulation that took place across the continent in the wake of the films I Am Not Your Negro and If Beale Street Could Talk. The article concludes with a few remarks on the translation strategies of several key publishers in France, Italy, Germany, and Romania.
Spurred on by Colson Whitehead’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Nickel Boys (2019), which is set in Tallahassee, FL, during the 1950s and 1960s, this essay presents a close-up look at James Baldwin’s visit to Tallahassee in May 1960. Moving between Baldwin’s writings about the South, especially “They Can’t Turn Back,” published by Mademoiselle magazine in August 1960, and subsequent writing about the movement in Tallahassee, and checking off against Whitehead’s fictional treatment, we find a lattice of silences obscuring the names and contributions of Black women. Most importantly, we find that the historic case of the rape of Betty Jean Owens in May 1959, and the subsequent trial that summer, appears neither in Baldwin’s nor Whitehead’s writing about Tallahassee at the time. This essay establishes the missing names of Black women in the places marked and unmarked by Baldwin in his work at the time, and puts the case of Betty Jean Owens on the historical map where it belongs. In so doing, we figure issues of race, gender, sex, and violence for the ways they twist together, ways suppressed in historical (and even some contemporary) writing, ways crucial to our deepening consideration of Baldwin’s work and the history which he drew upon and to which he contributed so profoundly.
James Baldwin was a vocal critic of Hollywood, but he was also a cinephile, and his critique of film was not so much of the medium itself, but of the uses to which it was put. Baldwin saw in film the chance to transform both politics and art—if only film could be transformed itself. This essay blends readings of archival materials, literature, film, and print culture to examine three distinct modes in Baldwin’s ongoing quest to revolutionize film. First, I argue, literature served as a key site to practice being a filmmaker, as Baldwin adapted cinematic grammars in his fiction and frequently penned scenes of filmgoing in which he could, in effect, direct his own movies. Secondly, I show that starting in the 1960s, Baldwin took a more direct route to making movies, as he composed screenplays, formed several production companies, and attempted to work in both Hollywood and the independent film scene in Europe. Finally, I explore how Baldwin sought to change cinema as a performer himself, in particular during his collaboration on Dick Fontaine and Pat Hartley’s documentary I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1982). This little-known film follows Baldwin as he revisits key sites from the civil rights movement and reconnects with activist friends as he endeavors to construct a revisionist history of race in America and to develop a media practice capable of honoring Black communities.