It seemed to be happening only yesterday, but Blake Morrison was born in 1950, and for him the Movement is something you have to work on in a library. So it suddenly comes to seem rather remote, as deep in the past as those files of the Spectator where he found the famous pieces by J.D. Scott and Anthony Hartley, or the scripts of John Wain's Third Programme magazine First Reading, or copies of the Reading limited editions of Wain and Amis. Mr Morrison claims to have eschewed gossip and attended instead to such questions as: 'Did the writers know each other? Is there any evidence of mutual admiration, mutual influence, or collaboration?' It is almost as if he were seeking information about Spenser, Gabriel Harvey and the Areopagus. Yet most of the poets he is writing about are ascertainably hale and not yet eligible for the Old Age Pension; even the few living elders they respected are still around, and capable of spry conversation - Empson, Fuller, Graves. Mr Morrison, of course, knew this, and addressed some inquiries to relevant survivors. Some responded - not Amis, I notice, and not Larkin, for reasons no doubt easily guessed at; but Conquest, doyen of the group, co-operated, and so did Davie, who is quoted more than anybody, though in my view (and in that of certain members of the group) he was never really in the middle of it, partly because he was an interloper from Cambridge, and partly because of all the talents assembled his was the least identifiable with the Movement's mood and programme.
LRB 5 June 1980 | PDF Download