Several critical works concerned with identifying the predominant forms and modes taken in British fiction in the contemporary period offer as a starting point David Lodge’s famous image of the novelist standing at a formal crossroads at the end of the 1960s. According to Lodge, in one direction lay a continued engagement with realism as the true path of English (British) fiction. In the other direction was more and more innovative experimentation. The binary opposition of this image indicates some of the heated debates about the future of the novel in the preceding decades, which tended to centre on the response by postwar novelists to the modernists of the previous generation. Whereas writers such as William Cooper, Kingsley Amis, John Wain and, to a certain extent, the Angry Young Men championed a return to realism in the 1950s and early 1960s, a new generation of experimental writers such as Christine Brooke-Rose, B.S. Johnson, Eva Figes and John Berger continued the experimental exploration of the modernists, often being influenced by literature outside of Britain such as the Beat generation writers in the United States and the nouveau roman in France.
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Dr. Nick Bentley
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