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The 1960s Avant-Gardes Reading Group meets every two or three weeks at the British Library, getting together to discuss the exhilarating array of experimental literature of the long 1960s. Each session focuses primarily on a text chosen from a group of post-war authors currently receiving a resurgence of interest both literary and critical; those who, in B. S. Johnson’s words, were “writing as though it mattered”.

In the spring and summer of 2019, we discussed the ventriloquist dummies, botched murder-plots, and dim sea sprays of Ann Quin’s Berg (1964); Alain Robbe-Grillet’s disorienting nouveau roman, Jealousy (1957); the quantum mechanical funhouse of Christine Brooke-Rose’s Such (1966); and Nicholas Mosley’s stunning, fractured Impossible Object (1968). The autumn of that year saw us get to grips with Donald Bartheleme’s Snow White (1967), Dennis Williams’ The Third Temptation (1968), short stories from Anna Kavan’s Julia and the Bazooka (1970), and B.S. Johnson’s Albert Angelo (1964).

The schedule for the winter and spring of 2020 is as follows:

January 27: Maureen Duffy, Wounds (1969)
February 17: John Berger, G (1972)
March 2: Tom Raworth, A Serial Biography (1969) [Available in Earn Your Milkhere]
March 16: Ithell Colquhoun, Goose of Hermogenes (1961) 

Works we hope to read in future sessions might include Wilson Harris’s Palace of the Peacocks (1960), Harry Matthews’ Tlooth (1966), Brigid Brophy’s In Transit (1969), and others. Such prose-works will also be considered in relation to the period’s abundance of pioneering poetry, theatre, and cinema—ranging from Lee Harwood’s The Man With Blue Eyes (1966) and Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts (1966) to Joseph Losey’s/Harold Pinter’s Accident (1967), and beyond.

Meetings take place every few Mondays at the British Library’s Terrace Cafe, 12pm-1pm.

Please register interest and join our mailing list: 1960sreadinggroup@gmail.com

We hope to see you there.

Sam Caleb, Jess Hannah, Denise Rose Hansen, James Reath, and Stephen Hills.