The Sixties must have been a splendid decade in which to come of age—all that upheaval and overturning of conventions. What I saw didn’t look particularly wonderful, but then I couldn’t know. Having been born just a shade too late to do anything more than watch from the periphery, I wasn’t really a part of it.

Yet there is little doubt that the Sixties, more than most other decades, had a defining power. Those who actually did participate in its events have been indelibly marked by their experience. Those who missed out, who know about it only from books or their parents’ misty-eyed recollections, sound as if they feel cheated when you talk to them—as though fate had dealt them a cruel blow by condemning them to be born too late.

The intoxicating character of the Sixties made itself felt nowhere more prominently than in the arts, as two recent...


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