‘A balanced and non-judgmental analysis of an extraordinary and seductive aberration”
George Melly, New Society
First published in 1986, Robert Hewison’s Too Much has long been recognised as one of the key histories of the Sixties — and of the cultural revolution that saw the arts become a battleground for the conflicting forces of social change.
In the Sixties new forms of creative expression emerged: Pop Art, pop music, fringe theatre and performance poetry all contributed to the semi-mythical image of ‘Swinging London’. The decade’s new affluence, and the desire to cast aside the cultural conformism and oppressive social deference of the past led to an optimism — and a hedonism — that was liberating.
But as Too Much shows, the excitement of the Sixties was ambiguous, and masked the political and economic insecurities of the times. When the drive for liberation became not just a choice of lifestyle, but full-on opposition to the status quo the underground and official culture clashed.
All the major events, themes and cultural players are here — from satire to the underground press, from the radical theatre to the Albert Hall poetry reading, from the love-ins, sit-ins, teach-ins, happenings trials and busts that saw the mood of the time switch from Carnaby Street to Grosvenor Square, and the climactic events of 1968.
Too Much: Art & Society in the Sixties 1960-75 concludes the trilogy The Arts in Britain Since 1939 which began with Under Siege: Literary Life in London 1939-45, and continued with In Anger: Culture in the Cold war 1945-60.
‘The most clear-eyed and evocative of the many recent books about the period’
Michael Horowitz, Words International
‘Hewison has approached his vast, chaotic subject with thoroughness and intelligence’
Sean French, The Times Literary Supplement
‘Too Much is likely to remain a key work for some time’
Stuart Laing, Sociology