The early sixties, a golden era for American literature

As I approach the end of a re-read of Catch-22 I am again reminded of, and astonished by, the incredible literary wealth of the first few years of the ’60s. Talented authors took on big issues, and achieved novels that commanded wide readership. Everything from Ken Kesey’s Sometimes a Great Notion to Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. These novels frequently exhibited an optimism and hopefulness that was characteristic of the time (at least some of the time). Did the Cuban missile crisis snuff it out? The Kennedy assassination? Was this just the death rattle of the fifties? Even Faulkner had a hopeful message in his Nobel acceptance speech. We seem so much more sophisticated and cynical now. We have so much more, and seem so sad.

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1 Response to The early sixties, a golden era for American literature

  1. keithferrellwritenow says:

    Good post, man, and I have been trying to say so in a comment, but WordPress declined to allow me to do so yesterday or this morning. So:

    Good and wistful points, John. I think often of the writers of the same period who didn’t achieve the fame or success of Heller or Lee. J. R. Salamanca is one who comes to mind, as does, more often. J. F. Powers, whose Morte d’Urban remains one of American literature’s (world literature’s for that matter) great too-little-known novels.

    I’ll try again later to get the post onto the blog.

    Otherwise, how go things — gorgeous here but I imagine you’re getting rain.


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