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Music and Sexuality in BrittenSelected Essays$
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Philip Brett and George Haggerty

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780520246096

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520246096.001.0001

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Auden's Britten

Auden's Britten

(p.186) Chapter Eleven Auden's Britten
Music and Sexuality in Britten

Philip Brett

University of California Press

This chapter inquires into the inspiration that propelled Britten to produce Peter Grimes, depicting the internalized oppression of an allegorical figure undoubtedly signifying “the homosexual,” at least two decades prior to the commencement of liberation movements. The solution to the question lay in Britten's belonging to the upper-middle-class British Artists and intellectuals, dubbed the “Auden generation,” and his personal proximity to Auden himself. The twain met on the sets of John Grierson's documentary film unit. They first collaborated on the film Coal Face, but their most famous collaboration and most successful film was Night Mail. Earlier commentators on Britten who invested in the public/private binary were shy of reckoning the connection between the personal and political awakening of Britten, and their mutual synergy. Britten's collaboration with Auden proved to be the catalyst triggering this synergy.

Keywords:   Peter Grimes, allegorical figure, Auden generation, Night Mail, upper middle class, John Grierson

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