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Against Extremism

Against Extremism

(p.153) Chapter Eleven Against Extremism
The Alvarez Generation
William Wootten
Liverpool University Press

This chapter considers the attacks against Alvarez's extremism. In the 1960s and 1970s, there appeared something like a sub-genre devoted to attacking the notion of extremism in verse. Charles Tomlinson's ‘Against Extremity’, from his 1969 collection The Way of the World, was particularly outspoken and unpleasant, referring to how ‘That girl’ who nearly took her own life before writing a book. Roy Fisher, a late modernist poet also declared: ‘The poets are dying because they have been told to die’. The fiercest and most comprehensive sally came from a bright young Scottish academic named Veronica Forrest-Thomson, who inveighed against: the suicide merchants who say in effect, ‘no one can become a great poet unless he has at least tried killing himself’. The chapter goes on to discuss the similarities between Sylvia Plath and Forrest-Thomson, as well as the latter's poetry.

Keywords:   extremism, poets, poetry, A. Alvarez, Sylvia Plath, Charles Tomlinson, Roy Fisher, Veronica Forrest-Thomson, suicide

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