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Doris Lessing and the Forming of History$
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Kevin Brazil, David Sergeant, and Tom Sperlinger

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474414432

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414432.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 25 September 2021

‘I’m an adolescent. And that’s how I’m going to stay’: Lessing and Youth Culture 1956–1962

‘I’m an adolescent. And that’s how I’m going to stay’: Lessing and Youth Culture 1956–1962

Chapter:
(p.26) Chapter 2 ‘I’m an adolescent. And that’s how I’m going to stay’: Lessing and Youth Culture 1956–1962
Source:
Doris Lessing and the Forming of History
Author(s):

Nick Bentley

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474414432.003.0003

The mid-to-late 1950s saw an explosion of youth subcultures in Britain – teenagers, Teddy Boys, jazz fans, hipsters, beatniks, mods and rockers. This range generated a series of moral panics and media fascination. The New Left in particularly were split on whether to see these new youth groups as indicative of a consumer-led Americanization of traditional working-class British culture or as potential sites for cultural (and political) rebellion. Lessing’s representation of youth is particularly interesting in this context, and it is a recurring theme in a number of works from this period including her plays Each to His Own Wilderness and Play With a Tiger, her documentary novel In Pursuit of the English, and her novels A Ripple From the Storm and The Golden Notebook. This chapter traces Lessing’s engagement with youth culture and argues that she articulates concerns within the New Left and British culture more broadly. Her work is read against contemporary cultural commentary from the New Left, especially in a series of articles in the Universities and Left Review, and against other fiction and commentary from the period, including works by Lynne Reid Banks, Anthony Burgess, Shelagh Delaney, Richard Hoggart, Colin MacInnes, Alan Sillitoe, and Muriel Spark.

Keywords:   Doris Lessing, the New Left, youth culture, Each to His Own Wilderness, Play With a Tiger, In Pursuit of the English, A Ripple From the Storm and The Golden Notebook

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