Angry young men

Angry young men

Angry Young Men is a journalistic catchphrase applied to a number of British playwrights and novelists from the mid-1950s. The phrase was originally used by British newspapers after the success of the play "Look Back in Anger" to describe young British writers, though it was derived from the autobiography of Leslie Paul, founder of the Woodcraft Folk, whose "Angry Young Man" was published in 1951.

It has hen used more generically, to refer to a young person who strongly criticises political and social institutions.

John Osborne

The playwright John Osborne was the archetypal example, and his signature play "Look Back in Anger" (1956) attracted attention to a style of drama contrasting strongly with the genteel and understated works of Terence Rattigan that had been in fashion. Osborne's "The Entertainer" (1957) secured his reputation, with Laurence Olivier playing the protagonist Archie Rice.

Definition by stance

Their political views were seen as radical, sometimes even anarchic, and they described social alienation of different kinds. They also often expressed their critical views on society as a whole, criticising certain behaviours or groups in different ways. On television, their writings were often expressed in plays in anthology drama series such as "Armchair Theatre" (ITV, 1956-68) and "The Wednesday Play" (BBC, 1964-70); this leads to a confusion with the kitchen sink drama category of the early 1960s.

Definitions by groupings

As a catchphrase, the term was applied to a large, incoherently defined group, and was rejected by most of the writers to whom it was applied; see for instance "Answer to a Letter from Joe" by John Wain ("Essays on Literature and Ideas", 1963). Some commentators, following publisher Tom Maschler, who edited a collection of political-literary essays by the "Angries" ("Declaration", 1957), divided them into three groups:

#The New University Wits (a term applied by William Van O'Connor in his 1963 study "The New University Wits and the End of Modernism"), Oxbridge malcontents who explored the contrast between their upper-class university privilege and their middle-class upbringings. They included Kingsley Amis, Philip Larkin, and John Wain, all of whom were also part of the poetic circle known as The Movement.
#Writers mostly of lower-class origin concerned with their political and economic aspirations. Some of these were left-wing and some were right-wing. They included John Osborne (whose play "Look Back in Anger" is a basic "Angries" text), Harold Pinter, John Braine, Arnold Wesker and Alan Sillitoe. William Cooper, the early model AYM, though Cambridge-educated was a "provincial" writer in his frankness and material and is included in this group.
#A small group of young existentialist philosophers led by Colin Wilson and also including Stuart Holroyd and Bill Hopkins.

Cross-currents in the late 1950s

Friendships, rivalries, and acknowledgments of common literary aims within each of these three groups could be intense (the relationship between Amis and Larkin is considered one of the great literary friendships of the 20th century). But the writers in each group tended to view the other groups with bewilderment and incomprehension. Observers and critics could find no common thread among them all. They were contemporaries by age. They were not of the upper-class establishment, nor were they protegés of existing literary circles. It was essentially a male "movement". Shelagh Delaney, author of "A Taste of Honey" (1958), was described as an "angry young woman" (see Arthur Marwick (1998) "The Sixties").

The perception of them as "angry" outsiders was the one point of coherence. It all had something to do with English "provincialism" asserting itself, in a world where James Joyce (an Irishman) and Dylan Thomas (a Welshman) had recently taken the literary high ground. Feelings of frustration and exclusion from the centre and The Establishment were taken up, as common sense surrogates for the Freud and Sartre of the highbrows. In a negative description, they tended to avoid radical experimentalism in their literary style; they were not modernists by technique. That much fitted in with the overlapping "Movement" poets, identified as such a year or two before, also a journalistic label.

Later uses

The term has also been used in reference to three British musicians of the late 1970s and early 1980s whose music carried the vitriol of punk rock, but not its musical style: Elvis Costello, Graham Parker, and Joe Jackson.

In India, this designation was also bestowed upon Amitabh Bacchan when he reached the peak of cinematic popularity for his repeated appearances as protagonist in the typical violent and heroic hindi films

ee also

*British New Wave
*Kingsley Amis
*Philip Larkin
*John Wain
*John Osborne
*Harold Pinter
*John Braine
*Alan Sillitoe
*William Cooper (novelist)


*"Success Stories" (1988) by Harry Ritchie, a well-documented history of the AYM as a journalistic phenomenon
*"The Angry Young Men: A Literary Comedy of the 1950s" (2002) by Humphrey Carpenter, an anecdotal group biography
*"The Angry Years" (2007) by Colin Wilson, personal history and detailed accounts of many other figures attached to the label

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Angry Young Men — (deutsch: „Zornige junge Männer“) oder kurz Angries ist ein journalistisches Schlagwort, das auf zahlreiche britische Künstler und Schriftsteller Mitte der 1950er angewendet wurde. Der erste Autor, der so bezeichnet wurde, war John Osborne… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • angry young men — n. [often A Y M ] a group of young writers in Great Britain after WWII, bitterly critical of upper class and middle class values, practices, etc. * * * Group of mid 20th century young British writers. Their works express the bitterness of the… …   Universalium

  • Angry young men —   [ æȖgrɪ jʌȖ men], Zornige junge Männer, Bezeichnung für eine Gruppe sozialkritischer britischer Autoren (besonders J. Osborne, J. Wain, K. Amis, J. Braine, A. Sillitoe), die vermutlich vom Titel der Autobiographie von Leslie Allen Paul (* 1905 …   Universal-Lexikon

  • angry young men — n. [often A Y M ] a group of young writers in Great Britain after WWII, bitterly critical of upper class and middle class values, practices, etc …   English World dictionary

  • Angry Young Men — Les Angry Young Men (parfois abrégé en anglais en Angries), ou Jeunes gens en colère, est une formule dont la presse s est servie pour désigner un certain nombre de jeunes auteurs dramatiques et de romanciers britanniques qui ont percé au milieu… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Angry Young Men — An|gry* Young Men [ æŋgri jʌŋ mɛn] die (Plur.) <aus gleichbed. engl. angry young men, eigtl. »zornige junge Männer«> Vertreter einer sozialkritischen literarischen Richtung in England in der zweiten Hälfte der 50er Jahre des 20. Jh.s …   Das große Fremdwörterbuch

  • Angry Young Men — Los Angry Young Men (jóvenes iracundos o jóvenes airados) fueron un grupo de escritores británicos de mediados del siglo XX. Sus obras expresan la amargura de las clases bajas respecto al sistema sociopolítico imperante de su tiempo y la… …   Wikipedia Español

  • angry young men — ► TEATRO Movimiento cultural contemporáneo inglés, que toma su nombre «jóvenes airados» de la obra del dramaturgo John Osborne Mirando hacia atrás con ira (1956). Pretendió fustigar la sociedad inglesa establecida y reunió diversas ramas de la… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • ANGRY YOUNG MEN (THE) — ANGRY YOUNG MEN THE Bien que leur humeur ait plutôt été une amertume sarcastique ou boudeuse et leur rébellion un repli, un refus de souscrire plus longtemps à une vulgate officielle qui leur donnait des haut le cœur, on les a appelés,… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Angry young man — The phrase angry young man can refer to:*Angry young men, a journalistic catchphrase applied to some British writers of the mid 1950s, such as John Osborne * Fenqing , literally meaning angry young men , a Chinese slang term for young… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”