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Special RelationsThe Americanization of Britain?$
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Howard Malchow

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780804773997

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804773997.001.0001

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From the Albert Hall to a British Counterculture

From the Albert Hall to a British Counterculture

(p.99) Chapter 4 From the Albert Hall to a British Counterculture
Special Relations
Stanford University Press

This chapter describes the Beat-inspired international poetry happening at the Royal Albert Hall in 1965. The Hall in South Kensington held a position of some importance in the iconography of postwar British identity. The Poetry International, or “Wholly Communion” as it came to be known, was “a magnificent shambles.” The British rhythm and blues tradition that Birchall lamented and the psychedelic phenomenon were closely connected to American models. There was significant transatlantic cross-fertilization in the formative influences surrounding psychedelia and “mind-blowing” rock. The counterculture gave birth to antiestablishment radicals in Britain in the late 1960s. The British and American countercultures showed quite similar psychological responses: disillusion and distrust of authority, an indefinitely prolonged period of adolescent turmoil, the demand for the immediate gratification of desire, and what Bettelheim had determined as the neurotic drives of the student leaders.

Keywords:   international poetry, Royal Albert Hall, Wholly Communion, British counterculture, American counterculture, South Kensington, British rhythm and blues, antiestablishment radicals

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