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Look Back in Anger Hardcover – 1957


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 96 pages
  • Publisher: CRITERION. NY 1957; 1st edition (1957)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B001PL5WHY
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

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Customer Reviews

Too bad the war couldn't have been prolonged for her entertainment.
David Schweizer
How is it that such a person has not one but two women fall in love with him and leave all for his sake?
MOTU Review
Although Jimmy is a very difficult role, it is very rewarding to work with him and the other characters.
Linus Widner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 40 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 4, 1999
Format: Paperback
You'll never meet a more unique character than Jimmy Porter, a 20-something British Archie Bunker. He's filled with rage at the absence of ... something ... and spews forth venom, sarcasm and utter misery relentlessly. Sounds horrible, right? Well, it's fascinating. I couldn't put it down, and I'd like to see the current revival of the play in NYC. I've seen a few people like Jimmy Porter, people who have so much potential, energy and creativity, yet for one reason or another it's all squandered. They fail to surround themselves with people of equal passion, and the result is that they hurt the ones around them, who are more at peace with themselves. The question is, how does someone so young get this way?
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Clark Gable on November 16, 2006
Format: Paperback
Writer John Osborne presents in Look Back in Anger an antithesis to the `drawing room dramas' of the period by writers such as Noel Coward which were popular in the 1950's. These dramas often featured polished and wealthy characters from the middle and upper classes, at their leisure within their homes and drawing rooms. Such plays fuelled what one newspaper reviewer from `The Express' termed as the `Illusion of Comfort' which pervaded the 50's.

After reading or watching Osborne's play no one can argue that he was under such an `illusion'. The play can be seen as a reaction both against the `drawing room' dramas and the general society which they represent. Rather than a drawing room with wealthy characters, Osborne selected as his setting a cramped and dismal one attic apartment and filled it with rough down and out lower class characters that were in so0me cases seen as uncivil for the theatre. Their language was coarse, their setting was harsh but worst of all to the original audience of this play (which no doubt had drawing rooms of their own) these characters presented to them a world which was uncomfortably realistic. It is this realism which may account for the fact that many viewers initially did not like Osborne's play as they did not like the world that it presented.

Jimmy Porter, the eternally angry young man who believes that he has life potential beyond being a sweets salesman is frustrated by the notion that he is never given the opportunity by society to fulfill this potential, he can never pull himself up from his social position, he is effectively `stuck.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J C E Hitchcock on July 20, 2006
Format: Paperback
"Look Back in Anger", first performed at London's Royal Court Theatre in 1956, is often cited as marking a theatrical revolution. The British theatre of the early fifties, dominated by playwrights like Noel Coward and Terence Rattigan, was widely regarded as genteel, well-mannered and middle-class. John Osborne's play can be seen as a deliberate reaction against those values. Its plot is conventional enough. It centres around the stormy marriage of a young couple, Jimmy and Alison Porter, who separate after a series of quarrels. Unknown to Jimmy, Alison is pregnant at the time, and he starts a relationship with her best friend Helena, an actress. Six months later Alison, having lost her baby, returns, and Helena ends her affair with Jimmy so as to allow the couple to be reunited.

What was shocking about the play was its social setting and the attitudes displayed by the characters, especially Jimmy. He is from a working-class family and, although he has a university degree, has turned his back on the sort of well-paid white-collar job that such an educational background would normally have led to in the fifties, working as a trader in the local market, running a sweet stall with his friend Cliff. He and Alison, with Cliff as a lodger, live in a dingy bed-sit in a large Midlands town. Alison herself is from the wealthy upper middle classes (her father is a retired Indian Army officer) and her family resent her marriage to Jimmy.

It was in the late fifties that the term "Angry Young Man" was coined by the critics to describe not only writers such as Osborne, Kingsley Amis and John Braine, but also their characters such as Jimmy Porter and Amis's Lucky Jim, who were seen as the mouthpieces of their creators.
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Format: Paperback
A pioneering work that took English drama in a new direction; Osborne is Tennessee Williams in an English guise. Jimmy's virtual monologue from Act One is the longest in almost any play of that era; filled with vituperation and contempt for his wife, her father, his friends, almost everything. "Anger" is virtually forgotten today (look at the dates of the other reviews) but when I first read it as a young man it was a major breakthrough into social realism before British drama veered off into the Theater of the Absurd.
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Format: Paperback
Sometimes it's useful to be reminded that our world is a place that more often than not doesn't make much sense. It's all too frequently a setting for the display of intimidating and triumphal cruelty that takes verbal forms we may not have anticipated but that we immediately recognize when we hear them. Some among us seem to be virtuosos when it comes to cynically devising and inflicting pain, most often on those we care for and who happen to be close by.

Jimmy, the demonstrably vicious protagonist of John Osborne's play Look Back in Anger is just such an unrestrained linguistic thug. He inflicts the harshest indictments, the most injurious epithets, and the most painfully timed indifference on everyone he knows, and he does so for reasons that are never clear. In fact, he needs no immediate reason, wants no immediate reason, and offers no immediate reason.

Jimmy is the sort of unsolicited adversary who is at his best, his most inspired, his most whole, and his most creative when he's angriest. I've known people like Jimmy. Their anger may be signaled by a vaguely demonic smirk, nothing too obvious, but definitely there and bespeaking enjoyment. Though their rage is without discernible prompting or purpose, it fills them with self-righteousness that provides a kind of unspoken rationale. The fact that it's actually irrational doesn't in the least diminish their certitude. The intensity of their anger is too keen and all-consuming not to be justified, and not to justify inflicting derision, shame, humiliation, and undeserved suffering on others.
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