Jon Savage Excavates the Idea of the Teenager

British writer Jon Savage wrote England's Dreaming, a landmark book on the punk era. Now, in Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, he's chronicled what he calls the "prehistory of the teenager."

The commonly held notion is that teen culture emerged in the mid-1950s, but Savage finds that it begins much earlier: The first bestselling memoir of teenage angst was published in 1875, he argues, and along the way we've met J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan and Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, plus Booth Tarkington, Rudolph Valentino, Judy Garland, and Leopold and Loeb.

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