Origins of the Underground: British poetry between apocryphon and incident light, 1933-79

The background to Origins of the Underground is really the story of how British poets became intellectuals. As they retreated from inherited and fixed value systems, they had to think for themselves, and this was a race which intellectuals generally won. You can't just buy in ideas like a small tropical country buying jet fighter planes. What the success of poets seems to turn on is their willingness to use ideas which excite the ideas part of their brains because they are genuinely unfamiliar. Poets who prefer to stick to well-worn and inherited arguments, where they can predict every move, fail for this reason. The area of nearby uncertainty has an odd shape. Obviously, most of the ideas which were new and risky thirty years ago are now forgotten — the risk fell to earth, so to speak. A certain archaeology is needed to retrieve these "casualty" ideas. I admit that I enjoy this sort of digging, and the practice of psychoceramics (the scientific study of crackpots), but perhaps this pleasure pursuit is useful as well. The terrain is made impassable by deep mutual disagreements between different groups of poetry readers (and writers). Going in at the level of ideas offers a possible way of easing these disagreements. Admittedly, it's very difficult to find out exactly what they are.

Table of contents

Introduction: A case that needs to be made
The closing of the 1940s; and the prehistory of the underground
Reflexivity and sensitivity
A Various Art and the Cambridge Leisure Centre
Precision and the influence of photography on the poem
Objectivism and the self-investment with modernist legitimacy
The cognitively critical tradition: Madge, Tomlinson, Crozier, Chaloner, Fisher
Secrets of Nature: documentary, group feeling, and propaganda
Avant-garde legitimacy, continued; Neo-Objectivism
The procurement of the information in poetry
West-bloc dissidents, or the history of ideas in poetry
The dissolution of the horizon: New Romantic poetry
Moral man in an immoral society: personalism and authenticity in the 1940s
New Romantic poets
In the land of the not-quite day; or, the frisson of ruins. David Gascoyne
Bad science, pulp topography: Iain Sinclair
Radical toxins and lingering hallucinogens: Counter-culture and New Age
Apocalyptic foreglow, and origins of the Counter-Culture
Peripheral nationalism and collective disloyalty
The 1970s and Left versus Right in the Labour Party
Decentralisation: the ideal of workers’ control
Under the ground, into the Crypt

Nøkkelord: Teori Litteraturvitenskap Poesi Britisk poesi