angry young men

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angry young men,

term applied to a group of English writers of the 1950s whose heroes share certain rebellious and critical attitudes toward society. This phrase, which was originally taken from the title of Leslie Allen Paul's autobiography, Angry Young Man (1951), became current with the production of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger (1956). The word angry is probably inappropriate; dissentient or disgruntled perhaps is more accurate. The group not only expressed discontent with the staid, hypocritical institutions of English society—the so-called Establishment—but betrayed disillusionment with itself and with its own achievements. Included among the angry young men were the playwrights John OsborneOsborne, John
(John James Osborne), 1929–94, English dramatist. He began his theatrical career as an actor and playwright in provincial English repertory theaters.
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 and Arnold WeskerWesker, Arnold,
1932–, English playwright, b. London. At various times he has been a carpenter's mate, a seed sorter, and a pastry cook. His plays Chicken Soup with Barley (1958), Roots (1958), and I'm Talking about Jerusalem
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 and the novelists Kingsley AmisAmis, Sir Kingsley
, 1922–95, English novelist. He attended St. John's College, Oxford (B.A., 1949) and for some 20 years taught at Oxford, Swansea, and Cambridge and in the United States before he could afford to become a full-time writer.
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, John BraineBraine, John Gerard,
1922–86, English novelist, b. Bradford, Yorkshire. With his first novel, Room at the Top (1957), Braine established himself as one of England's angry young men.
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, John WainWain, John,
1925–94, English novelist and critic, b. Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, grad. Oxford (B.A., 1946; M.A., 1950). Originally lumped with England's angry young men after the publication of Hurry on Down (1953), Wain later considerably broadened his scope.
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, and Alan SillitoeSillitoe, Alan,
1928–2010, English writer, b. Nottingham. The son of an illiterate tannery worker, he grew up in poverty, left school at 14, and was himself a factory worker as a teenager.
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. In the 1960s these writers turned to more individualized themes and were no longer considered a group.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Angry Young Men


the name used in literary criticism to refer to a group of English writers of the 1950’s. The term, which came from L. A. Paul’s autobiographical book Angry Young Man (1951). became widely used after the 1956 London staging of J. Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger. The passionate misanthropic monologues of this play’s hero epitomize the feelings of the Angry Young Men.

The most typical Angry Young Men were the novelists J. Wain, K. Amis, and J. Braine and the playwright Osborne; however, they did not form a literary school. The group was united by dissatisfaction with the English bourgeoisie and, in particular, with the position of youth in society. They spoke out against social inequality, class arrogance, lies, and hypocrisy. Their hero was usually a young man with a university education, disillusioned with life and dissatisfied with his work and with a society that has no place for him. He manifests his rebellion against the accepted norms of behavior and morals in extravagant pranks, scandalous adultery, and an ostentatious solidarity with the working class.

The Angry Young Men did not advance a positive program, and their criticism bore an individualistic character. Toward the late 1950’s, they abandoned their earlier subjects and heroes.


Ivasheva, V. V. Angliiskaia literatura XX veka. Moscow, 1967.
Gozenpud, A. A. Puti i pereput’ia. Leningrad, 1967.
Shestakov, D. Sovremennaia angliiskaia drama (Osbornovtsy). Moscow, 1968.
[Declaration, by Colin Wilson and others.] Edited by T. Maschler. London, 1957.
Allsop, K. The Angry Decade. London, 1958.
Gindin, J. Postwar British Fiction. Berkeley, Calif., 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Angry Young Men

disillusioned postwar writers of Britain, such as Osborne and Amis. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 37]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
On the contrary, angry young men can turn into even angrier old men.
The final chapter, Angry Young Men, is an epilogue that many may read as full of anti-American sentiment.
1957 "The figures of young men - this flood of angry young men into our prisons and borstals - discloses a situation which is causing the Government the greatest anxiety," said Lord Mancroft.
WE WROTE: BORO are banking on the "angry young men" factor and Boro coach Mark Proctor believes it could have beneficial repercussions against the Lions.
The Nottingham-born writer, whose novels marked him out as one of the Angry Young Men of British fiction who emerged in the 1950s, died at Charing Cross Hospital in London.
It further said that those who turn to terrorism are often just "angry young men" who are rebelling against the society and see joining Al-Qaeda as "cool", "romantic" and "glamorous."
(2) I also argue that the provincial setting for the northern-realist and Angry Young Men fiction was not incidental and that in fact northernness is an integral factor in these examples of Angry Young Men texts.
Their songs would deal with social issues of the day, painting an image of a country suffering industrial decline and racial unrest, as well as capturing the frustrations of angry young men.
Five days after the announcement, 17 angry young men wiped the floor with Dewsbury Rams 40-0.
* "The Shadow of the Father in Thomas Wolfe and Pat Conroy: The South's Angry Young Men" by Donna Summerlin
This paper commences with a discussion of Sillitoe's work within the Angry Young Man literary genre before moving on to consider the emergence of Angry Young Men within film, once the novels of Sillitoe and other related writers were translated into screenplays.