The great – upbeat – 1950s

Posted by HC in Books / People / Travel on 7 August 2008

Norman Lewis has found a very decent if slightly verbose biographer in Julian Evans. I am particularly keen on Evans’ understanding of the cultural milieu in which Lewis operated. So often we hear of England as being socially ossified, at least until the 1960s. Actually, England has never been socially rigid and it was becoming ever less so in the first half of this century. So here is a quotation from the book which may help rehabilitate the rather vibrant post-war decade.

“The 1950s were a good time to be a writer in Britain. Change and the redistibribution of priotiries and wealth were everywhere in political, economic and cultural spheres, yet the vantage point that individual thought and creativity stands on was peculiarly solid. Living was cheap and improving materially faster than its cost… [Social gaps were still large] but in the 1950s social permanences that had been bricked in until the war turned out not so resistant after all, and the many-accented voices of the suburbs and provinces, the not-public-schooled, not-county-housed, were no longer bricked out.” (Reference: Semi-invisible Man: The life of Norman Lewis, by Julian Evans. Page 363)

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