Guide F.R. Leavis (Routledge Critical Thinkers)

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Why, then, despite her husband's official acknowledgements in the paratext, 2 doesn't her name appear on the cover? Similarly Q. Leavis contributed quite a few articles and reviews to Scrutiny, and was largely responsible for the editing, but her name is nowhere to be found on the journal's masthead. Because she was a woman, Q. Leavis could not, like her husband, become a Cambridge lecturer, use a Cambridge library, or publish an affiliated journal.

One may suspect at this early stage of the article that Q. Leavis's views on literature in general, and on the function of literary criticism in particular, were reactionary and narrowly elitist. This dismissal is disingenuous if one fails to place their conception of literature within the broader context of the relationship between academia and the print media on the one hand, and of the English "anthropological turn" in both cultural doctrine and literary style in the early decades of the twentieth century on the other hand. Leavis can hope to understand its fundamentals if they do not realise how much it owes to the views and method of two equally famous Cambridge academics, their senior Arthur Quiller-Couch , and their contemporary I.

Richards Some of those essays turn out to be relevant to an analysis of the Leavises' approach to criticism. In the opening essay, "The Commerce of Thought", some of the future characteristic features of F. Leavis's writing may be identified: the outspoken statement about the "absurdities" 3 of "Professor So-and-So" 1 due to a conception of human history that disregards plain facts and material realities; the fearless assertion that "in the commerce and transmission of thought the true carrier is neither the linotype machine, nor the telegraph [ His direct influence on the Leavises may be felt in several ways.

In the first place, he was Q. For a decline can be noticed in perhaps every department of literature, from the Epic to the ephemeral Magazine. Our everyday reading and speech now handles scraps from a score of different cultures. Here is how, two years later, Q. Leavis puts the contemporary situation in her own words:. The substitution for village and small-town community of cities composed of units whose main contact with each other outside the home is in the dance-hall, the cinema, the theatre, social but not co-operative amusements, has left only fiction to fill the gap.

Leavis Highlighting that "there is no indication that they ever had readers, much less that they played any part in shaping the human spirit and were shaped by it," she advocates an "anthropological" method of investigation Q. Leavis xiv; italics mine , which considers shifts in taste and changes in the socio-cultural background as proper yardsticks for an assessment of the contemporary world. Leavis's so-called "anthropological" method for the evaluation of literature, of the literary field and of the reading public, both heralds and differs from the thought-provoking thesis of the American critic Jed Esty in In his study entitled A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England , Esty coins the phrase "anthropological turn" in order to describe the discursive process by which mid-twentieth-century English intellectuals, in particular the late modernists, translated the end of the British Empire into a resurgent concept of national culture:.

Defined against the assumptions of traditional English literary criticism, the anthropological turn more or less corresponds to the rise of "culturalism", that is to an ethnographic and anti-elitist approach to symbolic practices whose classic institutional form is Birmingham-school Cultural Studies. By tracing the turn back to the thirties, we can see how canonical English writing of the pre-war period established key tropes and concepts for the reclamation of England's cultural integrity and authenticity.

Unlike Esty though, who considers that the end of imperialism led to the repair of the social divides that had conditioned high modernism's aesthetics of failure and fragmentation, Q. Her "anthropological" method, which is certainly not "anti-elitist" - but the word "elite" is yet to be defined - is therefore applied within a context where division still prevails, although in different forms:.

For both F. This failure is to be put down to the fact that the unprecedented expansion of the print media - to be understood here as the popular press, even if in actual fact middle-class papers like the Times and the Observer tended to be conservative in their tastes - in s and '30s Britain "encouraged a mindset in which sales and circulation became essential markers of value" Bingham First, newspapers acted as guides for the public by reviewing new books and plays; secondly, they claimed the role of moral guardian by seeking to protect readers from "indecent" forms of cultural expression; thirdly, they offered a platform for leading authors to offer contributions on key issues of the day; lastly, they operated as suppliers of fiction by serialising books believed to be suitable for their audience Bingham Bingham's well-documented article demonstrates to what extent the conservatism of the popular press - The Sunday Express and The Evening Standard in particular - enforced standards of decency and decorum, threatening some publishers into withdrawing controversial novels on charges of obscenity.

Leavis's assessment of the print media's negative influence on serious prose fiction is hardly to be contradicted:. One must be aware that when an editor writes "Nothing heavy, morbid or neurotic," he is condemning by implication for the terms are accepted counters and used for the sake of delicacy the living tradition of the novel. Leavis in his global evaluation of the role of the print media, emphasising how Q.

One is struck not by [the newspapers'] philistinism but by their commitment to the world of books. Many lower-middle- and working-class readers with little knowledge of literature were exposed to reviews of the latest works, the opinions of leading authors and serializations of notable novels. By paying well for articles and reviews, moreover, the press enabled many young and upcoming writers to sustain themselves. Leavis seemed to pay any attention to the fact that the serialisation of fiction in the British press did not necessarily imply that the literature serialised in such a way was inferior in quality to the one published by prestigious reviews.

For example, in the Evening Standard - hardly a highbrow newspaper - undertook the serialisation of Tennessee Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire. This move, no doubt motivated by gain, boosted the sales. Yet can the commercial aspect of the serialisation of a major work of American drama be said to detract from its literary quality? But F. Leavis was clearly more interested than his wife in the cultural role of poetry , which also explains the specific influence of I.

Richards on his approach to criticism. As of , Richards, then a Fellow of Magdalene College, brought into the English curriculum an experimental course which was to provide the basic material for his well-known book Practical Criticism. In that course, which Leavis himself attended, the students were required to express their genuine opinions on a seemingly random selection of poems, whose authorship was not revealed.

Richards noticed that, without the help of authoritative guidelines authorship, historical context, artistic movement and so on , the vast majority of his students were totally unable not only to correctly interpret the interdependence of tone, feeling and intention, but even to understand the literal meaning of the poems. It is a craft, in the sense that mathematics, cooking, and shoemaking are crafts. It can be taught. If we wish for a population easy to control by suggestion we shall decide what repertory of suggestions it shall be susceptible to and encourage this tendency except in the few.

But if we wish for a high and diffused civilisation , with its attendant risks, we shall combat this form of mental inertia. Richards ; italics mine. Yet Richards was a precursor of the New Criticism, and his wish to teach criticism like a "craft" announces Cleanth Brooks's famous definition of poetry - and of its interpretation - as a "well-wrought urn".

Routledge Critical Thinkers - Routledge

Leavis - like his wife - claims that the study of literature is not separable from a global "anthropological" method. Something like the idea of Tradition so incisively and provocatively formulated by him plays, I think, an essential part in the thinking of everyone to-day who is seriously interested in literature. Tradition [ Although both men perceive the development of English studies as a response to a cultural crisis, and probably too as a "rearguard action against 'mass civilisation'" Gervais , Eliot and Leavis part company on major points: Eliot is a right-wing modernist, cosmopolitan and Europe-oriented, whereas Leavis's allegiance is to English provincial life.

In "East Coker", Eliot seems to ignore the mundane drudgery of peasant life; only the voice of his sixteenth-century ancestor Sir Thomas Elyot is to be heard. Eliot's aristocratic Anglo-Catholicism holds little appeal for Leavis, whose sympathies are clearly for another, non-middle-class England. In order to grasp the historical premise and the pedagogical purpose of his definition of culture, one should bear in mind that the English seventeenth century occupies centre stage in his "anthropology".

In "Literature and Society", Leavis analyses the fundamental difference between the seventeenth and the eighteenth century to the effect that, while the age of Bunyan exemplifies "a real culture of the people", the Augustan age involves "a separation, new and abrupt, between sophisticated culture and popular. On the contrary, through "the exclusive, or insulating, efficacy of the politeness of Augustan verse," of which Alexander Pope is a typical exemplar, "sophisticated culture cuts itself off from the traditional culture of the people.

What one has to suggest in general by way of urging on students of politics and society the claims of literary studies [ Throughout its existence , this journal 11 always had difficult relationships with institutions in general, and the Cambridge world in particular.

The reader will have gathered by now that Scrutiny is not to be a purely literary review. There are politics, for instance. Well, a devotion to them at the party level is, no doubt, somewhere necessary. But something else is necessary — and prior: a play of the free intelligence upon the underlying issues.

The other point to make concerns the status of Scrutiny as a cultural medium. Leavis is of course careful to reject an openly elitist conception whereby his review might be perceived as the mouthpiece of a clique of snooty highbrows. He emphasises its educational function instead. The first duty is to publish good criticism judiciously directed. And inseparable from this is a conscious critical policy, if anything is to be effected in the present state of culture.

For to-day there are anti-highbrow publics and "modernist" publics, but there is no public of Common Readers with whom the critic can rejoice to concur. As Michael Bell points out, "[ Scrutiny 's] ideal Cambridge became increasingly isolated from the actual university" Bell In his first-rate biography of F.

Leavis despises what he regards as the belletrism of Bloomsbury. The main flaw in her argument is that, although she was a fierce opponent of middlebrow culture, she was, contrary to them, a defender of popular fiction and of lowbrow entertainements. Since they are lowbrows, engaged magnificently and adventurously in riding full tilt from one end of life to the other in pursuit of a living, they cannot see themselves doing it… It is one of the prime necessities of life to them—to be shown what life looks like. And the highbrows, of course, are the only people who can show them.

In a July radio debate with her husband Leonard, Virginia famously supported omnivorous reading even of the most light and frivolous fiction, believing that an impetus for knowledge may start at the most basic level. To her disgruntled husband, lamenting the quick disappearance of hand-made books, she retorted:. Books ought to be so cheap that we can throw them away if we do not like them, or give them away if we do.

Moreover, it is absurd to print every book as if it were fated to last a hundred years. The life of the average book is perhaps three months. Why not face this fact? Why not print the first edition on some perishable material which would crumble to a little heap of perfectly clean dust in about six months time? If a second edition were needed, this could be printed on good paper and well bound. Thus by far the greater number of books would die a natural death in three months or so. No space would be wasted and no dirt would be collected. Far from condoning the lowbrows' need for light fiction and innocuous movies on the grounds that even the cheapest forms of entertainment can foster critical thinking, they both adamantly maintain that in mass civilisation only minority culture is possible.

Woolf's description of the "lowbrows" patiently waiting in the rain to get into theatres may be patronising, as is her call for the "highbrows" to show these poor benighted creatures the right way; but so is Q. Even more disturbingly, so does F. Leavis had in mind for his "English School" may be analysed through the study of three articles published in Scrutiny between September and March , all under the title "Education and the University", but each addressing the issue from a certain angle: "Sketch for an English School", "Criticism and Comment", "Literary Studies".

Interestingly, these articles bear the fruit of the long campaign for educational reform that led to the Education Act of As Michael Bell aptly suggests, Leavis's proposals were to be embodied in the new generation of red-brick universities in the s and '60s Bell The Scottish-German enlightenment of Smith, Hume and Kant, primed by the mechanistic view of the new science, brought the final sledgehammer to the teleological conception of man.

In rejecting the dual authorities of Aristotle and the church, then, the enlightenment project conspicuously situated the individual subject—the rational, autonomous agent—at the center of moral life. Subsequent appeals to reason and utility further precipitated this decline, however unwittingly. The idea was that any rational person would have to assent to principles that reflect the property of universality, and that a rational justification for morality therefore could be established. Whether inspired by rights or utility, these twin theories of modern liberalism grafted a discourse of rational choice theory onto moral concepts derived, ultimately, from theistic premises.

The inevitable result, MacIntyre claims, had to be failure. Isaac Kramnick London: Penguin, , 1. Consequently, we are left with a culture of moral argument in which interlocutors debating the most heated issues of the day tend to speak past one another because each side begins with incommensurable premises warranted by some such conceptual fiction. It is to be secured, if at all, by producing certain non-rational effects on the emotions or attitudes of those who disagree with one. We use moral judgments not only to express our own feelings and attitudes, but also precisely to 50 MacIntyre, After Virtue, Emotivism is thus a theory which professes to give an account of all value judgments whatsoever.

Clearly if it is true, all moral disagreement is rationally interminable. Without a shared basis for practices and standards grounded in a tradition of rationality—that is, in a common way of arguing about which goods we deem important—moral exchanges inevitably take on this characteristic of interminability. The larger fear in this is not simply an unpalatable form of relativism however unappealing that may very well be ;54 more problematically, without rational grounds for disagreement, argument inevitably turns manipulative, which means that, as a culture, we have begun to lose the distinction between what counts as a manipulative and a non-manipulative discursive practice.

For each of us is taught to see himself or herself as an autonomous moral agent; but each of us also becomes engaged by modes of practice, aesthetic or bureaucratic, which involve us in manipulative relationships with others. Implicit in both cases is a logic of exploitation made all the worse by the competitive nature of capitalist society. Which Rationality? Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, , Yet in practice managers base their expertise on their ability to get people to achieve institutional ends. MacIntyre interprets this as just one more way to manipulate people in the name of a purportedly neutral moral fiction, which he claims we should, of course, reject.

It is generally true that institutions like hospitals and universities must exercise prudence in looking after material goods and resources in order for the practices they sustain namely, medicine and teaching to flourish. But at their very worst, when institutions succumb to a crudely utilitarian means-end conception of securing social goods—what MacIntyre calls pleonexia or acquisitiveness—they tend to fuse the potentially exploitative nature of managerial expertise with the competitive impetus of machine civilization.

Our relationship to social goods and with each other correspondingly suffers. The result more often than not is a world dominated by outcomes, deliverables, and the bottom line. To enter into a practice is to accept the authority of those standards and the inadequacy of. Those who lack the relevant experience are incompetent thereby as judges of internal goods.

MacIntyre uses a similar notion as the basis for developing a normative theory of virtue, which he claims is essential for realizing goods internal to the practices we should aspire to cultivate. Traditions decay without proper attention to the virtues required for ensuring their integrity. The relevance of this arguably communitarian vision of moral life to the Scrutiny project, a group who clearly championed the goods of the literary tradition as higher virtues, should be evident by now. The good critic displayed competence by being privy to experiences drawn from both realms, and by appealing to standards internal to a sustained tradition of practice.

For a culture 64 MacIntyre, After Virtue, In this way, Scrutiny combined the rather recent trend of quotation-led analysis with their own embattled sense of having to stand for and point to values thought lost, resuscitating along the way a tradition of excellence with standards internal to the idiom of the organic community, one that needed to be shown, they thought, to a society perceived to be in rapid decline.

The inability to recognize this fact, Scrutiny feared, was a critical practice that machine civilization dominated as it was by an emotivist ethos for external goods had almost entirely lost. MacIntyre began his career as a committed socialist fixed on reconciling Marxism with Christianity, a political outlook very much in line with the Marxist humanists of the s, especially Thompson and Williams, who both harbored deep ties with the rural communitarianism of English social history, as did Leavis and Scrutiny prior to them.

Culture and Literary Criticism in the s and ' Case of F.R. and Q.D. Leavis

MacIntyre aligns well with this vein of English cultural criticism, one that appeals to a tradition of practices and communal living as foil to a post-industrial or post-Enlightenment age. This is particularly true in his second anti-Marxian phase, which culminates with After Virtue , as outlined above, and its sequel Whose Justice? Michael J. Reading the Scrutiny project by way of MacIntyre also helps us deflate one of the major criticisms of Scrutiny repeated over the years: namely, that the group wildly exaggerated the virtues of pre-industrial rural life, adopting a form of nostalgia that merely reproduced a belated nineteenth- century agon with commercial society in twentieth century terms.

To be sure, Scrutiny rather uncritically revered writers like George Sturt in Change in the Village , who lauded the craftsmanship ideal of pre-industrial communal life. The truth is that the search for a golden age always has to be pushed further and further back in time, until we reach the Garden of Eden. No one would wish to be treated by the medical methods of that time. There were other periodicals of course—the short-lived Calendar of Modern Letters and T. This was Leavis's first opening in America, and it seems quite a prestigious one, confirming his status as a leading critic of contemporary poetry Ezra Pound had been the journal's original 'foreign correspondent'.

Whether the report is correct or not, the selection — at any rate, the first three names — would seem reasonable to the average English reader who believes in having a contemporary poetry; though he might, perhaps, protest that Mr Eliot had left out Day Lewis. I had better say at once that I find only Auden and Bottrall interesting, and that I am sure that what is most interesting in Auden's published work is hardly read.

Such a feeling produced the Georgian movement, and, if there is no more quickening of critical intelligence than seems likely at present to be tolerated, the new movement represented by New Signatures, New Country and New Verse will turn out to be not essentially different from the old. As with the Georgians there was as a rule not much reason for distinguishing one from another, so with the 'pylon-poets' the label suggests what has replaced Nature and country place-names — suggests well enough the corporate attitude towards contemporary civilization, though it would be hard, I imagine, to convey to Americans the odd and very common blend of Communism and Public School.

Stephen Spender, it is true, has individual characteristics to justify the distinction accorded him, in current valuation, along with W. Auden — except that I cannot see that they make him a poet. But here my judgment is at odds with Mr Eliot's if he is correctly reported. Of Auden's talent, however, there can be no question. It was manifested, as a matter of fact, before the 'movement' was assembled and in ways that hardly suggest the later associations.

Paid on Both Sides, the 'charade' that appeared in The Criterion two or three years ago, was obviously the product of a strongly individual sensibility and a subtle mind, and if it was technically very immature, it was not the less promising for that. But prosperous development, it was plain, would involve arduous wrestling with problems of technique, and to expect 22 F. Leavis this of a young poet in the absence of a critical reception and a critical environment is to expect too much.

At any rate, The Orators, which came out a year ago, showed no signs of such wrestling. It is extremely difficult, with a difficulty very largely of the wrong kind; yet it was almost everywhere acclaimed by critics who were clearly puzzled by it as an event in the history of English poetry. An artist who under these conditions does nevertheless develop must have unusual strength of character as well as of intelligence. That Auden has indeed rare gifts anyone may quickly be convinced by reading the opening prose-piece in The Orators, entitled Address for a Prize-day. Even in the propagandist and satiric trifles he tosses off something of his distinction appears, but it is a pity that it should be as one of the Neo-Georgians that he is becoming current.

In his second 'English Letter' Leavis speculated on the possibility that Auden and Spender might be awarded Gold and Silver medals for their contributions to British poetry. The only obvious representative of 'modern' criticism on the awarding committee was I. Richards, but he would probably find he had become an establishment figure.

F.R. Leavis: Essays And Documents

Leavis noted the recent publication of Auden's Dance of Death: 'It confirms the judgment that he has been encouraged by his reception to write far too easily. Sassoon writes much as he did a decade ago, and one hopes he may be widely read by his own class. Read's criticism of war is very much more subtle; on this theme, whether in verse or prose, he always commands profound respect and one can at times almost take his rare seriousness and integrity for poetic talent.

Yeats's latest volume appeared, of course, on both sides of the Atlantic. The Winding Stair contains nothing as good as the best of The Tower, but in no volume published during the year on this side by any of his juniors were gift and achievement so undeniable. The commonplaces of reviewing stressed the greatness of the later Yeats for, roughly speaking, the right reasons, and in this, perhaps, we have something as nearly approaching evidence of an effective change of taste in the past decade as we shall find.

Sassoon and Read featured again in 'Auden, Bottrall and Others' published in Scrutiny the following month. Leavis assigned them to the category of Leavis as Critic of New Poetry 23 writers who were not poets but were 'in some way interesting: they may be read seriously as attempting to express sensibilities of our time in verse': This applies, for instance, to Mr Herbert Read's little book, distinguishing it decisively from the companion one by Mr Siegfried Sassoon though this is not to say that Mr Sassoon's verses may not have, in certain social milieux, their function.

One judges Mr Sassoon to be indubitably sincere; but when one speaks of Mr Read's 'sincerity,' one means a great deal more by the attribution. One has in mind a certain fine tension, a certain unmistakable effort to realize, and to fix with precision, representative subtleties of intimate personal experience. And yet, while intensely respecting Mr Read as always when war is his theme , I cannot say that I think The End of a War successful poetry. The intended subtle complexity of feeling the intention is obvious enough does not seem to me realized in the verse; it is not acted, done, given, in concrete particularity and compelled upon the reader, but pointed to, for his acquiescent and too general recognition.

What one is looking for is a handling of words that registers a pressure of sensibility, and a sensibility that is not decidedly of its time will hardly be of a kind to exert a commanding pressure — to have that peculiar individual intensity that manifests the poet. Verse that falls short of exhibiting such an intensity may still be interesting.

He used some comments by Empson to develop a comparison: Mr Auden's strength, then, is to have just what Mr Empson appears to lack: a profound inner disturbance; a turbid pressure of emotions 24 F. Leavis from below; a tension of impulsive life too urgent and shifting to permit him the sense of intellectual mastery. As a poet he is too immediately aware of the equivocal complexity of his material and too urgently solicited by it, to manipulate it with cool insistence into firm definition and deliberately coherent elaboration.

He has nevertheless achieved enough in the matter of technique to impress upon the reader a highly individual sensibility. Leavis's review of Bottrall was also a restatement of his view of Pound: The influence of the Cantos, apparent in the versification and in other ways, seems to me. Bottrall is drawn towards Pound for reasons that should work the other way: no poet, I think, has much of profit to teach him whose technique is not a matter of delicate response to inner pressure, and whose technical problems are not pre-eminently problems of organizing experience and persuading sensibility to definition.

It is the Pound of Mauberley whose beneficent influence appears in the verse of The Loosening and Other Poems — where it is a significant fact there is nothing that looks much like Pound. That first volume of Bottrall's has not had nearly the attention it deserves: its due representation in a critical anthology of the best modern work would be very impressive.

F.R. Leavis

If, however, the present volume contains much less that gives me anything like unqualified satisfaction, that is not to say that Bottrall has retrogressed; he is attempting something much more difficult. Leavis was clearly struggling with a sense of disappointment in Bottrall. Nevertheless he managed to "work up to a positive conclusion, identifying 'something in Bottrall that is fundamentally a strength: a certain moral energy, a naivete if this term may be used to denote a virtue , that, along with such intelligence and acquisitiveness, makes one hopeful of his development.

He stands for healthymindedness mens sana in corpore sand , sporting courage and generosity 'Why do we all, seeing a Red, feel small? That a sense of social responsibility should emerge with such insistence from the Public School ethos is I refer to the group in general an interesting and probably important fact.

But Leftward leanings, however preferable one may find them to those of Kipling and Newbolt, do not of themselves turn simple healthy-minded sentiments and energies into poetry. Spender has brought out his Vienna since I last referred to him in these pages. My estimate of him remains what it was. I cannot see that he is more significantly talented than Rupert Brooke; indeed, he seems to me to be a poet and modern in much the same way as Brooke was in his time.

Auden I still find the one significant talent of the group. The Dog Beneath the Skin is very lively and amusing and should be a great success when the Group Theatre produces it next autumn. It is a more satisfactory thing than The Dance of Death, Auden's earlier dramatic experiment. But it too suffers from a radical uncertainty — it does not succeed in being as serious as it means to be. The satire of contemporary society does not strike one as being any more securely based than the uneasy enlightenment now current in 'Bloomsbury. Where we are particularly invited to demand proof of a mature outlook, what we get is sentimentality.

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The vision, in fact, in spite of the unmistakable distinction of talent and intelligence, and the will to escape the limitations of upbringing and social environment, is Public School. But 'Romantic' is an unfortunate word if it suggests the usual self-dramatizing vanity, the petty egotism enjoying its saeva indignatio, 26 F. Leavis the feminine gush of stoic pride and self-pity.

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Macdiarmid exhibits a truly fine disinterestedness and convinces us that we have here rare character if not rare genius. This disinterestedness, this character, this profound seriousness, distinguishes him again from the better-known of the young Left-wing poets. The title-poem, Second Hymn to Lenin, is sufficiently a success to deserve inclusion in the ideal anthology which would be a very small one of contemporary poetry.

Indeed he seems generally to have lost interest in new poetry after His later reviews were mostly revaluations of reputations established in the Eliot: I am forced to conclude either that Mr Eliot is specially advantaged by familiarity with the background of Miss Moore's poems and, perhaps, by having heard her own rendering and elucidation of them, or else that, if I am intellectual at all, it is very much less than moderately. For I have worked hard at them, applying myself to most of the book again and again at different sittings, and there is not one poem of which I can confidently say that I see the point.

I hope to be assured and convinced that I have been obtuse. This poetry is devoted almost wholly to expressing the characteristic unhappiness of his life, and has corresponding limitations of the kind that D. Harding indicates. Yet there it is, a fine and unique, if decidedly limited, poetry; the particular thing it is — and it expresses a representative kind of modern experience — conditioned by that particular history of the poet.

A happy Edward Thomas might have written no poetry at all. And yet it is hard to believe that the man who wrote a poetry so original and fine could not, with better luck, have produced something less negative in its essential attitudes — for there is an obvious sense in which 'negative' applies to his actual work. It is perhaps a tribute to the positive virtue of this 'negativeness' that Leavis as Critic of New Poetry 27 the Group — the post-Eliot Group — have not co-opted him into their bosom along with 'Wilfrid' and 'Kathy'.

And it is worth noting that Georgian taste, though he has perhaps suffered from having made his debut in Georgian pastoral company, didn't take to him. Harold Monro, for instance, could see nothing in his work. That the America of the should have produced a Hart Crane is not surprising. What is surprising is the critical respect the legend commands. For the question is not, as one would gather from American criticism, At what point does Crane fall short? At any rate, I cannot see that, apart from his conviction of genius and his confidence, he had any relevant gift.

Eliot was 'our only living great poet' and after this he became with the exception of one essay on Yeats more or less the only modern poet Leavis was interested in writing about — over thirty years later he was still preoccupied with 'Four Quartets'. And yet in 'East Coker' was a new work, and Leavis was attempting a 'due placing' of it for the first time: East Coker, which is much less difficult than Burnt Norton some things in which I don't altogether understand must, I think, be judged to be another success.

It has in it, I think, less of the positive in motion and attitude than any other poem of Mr Eliot's. The satire if that is the right word of the admirable Coriolan poems, the manner of which is represented in a passage of East Coker, has much more about it that is positive. At one point there is a brief reminder of the manner of The Journey of the Magi, which poem in prevailing tone, comes as near to East Coker as any of the earlier poems does. But the negativeness of East Coker is more complete and profound, and this poem, the comparison makes us note, lacks the dramatic frame of The Journey of the Magi.

It is, in fact, very much in the nature of a directly personal meditation, so that we can hardly help relating the mood to that of 28 F. Leavis the valedictory editorial of The Criterion. Nor can we help relating to the mood the looseness of organization, or the absence of complexity, that makes East Coker so much easier to read than Burnt Norton.


But it is not fair to close without noting that what the poem offers is humility. Still, the due placing, in relation to the rest of Mr Eliot's poetry, of East Coker judged as a poem seems to me what I have indicated. The early reviews are at least a welcome reminder that, however his views may have hardened and narrowed later, he did at one stage find something more to say about the poetry of his own time than 'Yeats has died, and Eliot has gone on.

In Leavis gave his marked copy of Daniel Deronda Blackwood new edition, to Brian Worthington, one of his students at Downing College, Cambridge, who recalls that Leavis 'said he'd been given a new US paperback [the Harper Torchbook edition] and so didn't need his copy'. According to Brian Worthington, who has other books from the library of F.

Leavis in his possession, the marginal linings in his Blackwood edition of Daniel Deronda are 'representative' of the way in which F. Leavis annotated his books. There are no detailed marginal comments, all but two of the innumerable markings throughout the volume are in pencil, and they take the form of underscorings, perpendicular lines, and hieroglyphics, including a non-capitalized 'x', 'EF, 'W, and more frequently the number '60', which might refer to a quotable quote.

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  6. Lawrence, Henry James, and George Eliot. The text is heavily scored: almost every chapter is marked in some way, and Leavis also made notes on the front and end papers. The analysis that follows will approach this material by several different routes: it will start by reviewing Leavis's frequent use of the 3O F. Leavis marginal note 'GE', and then go on to examine Leavis's notes on the front and end papers, using these as a guide to corresponding annotations in the main body of the text.

    In many cases, Daniel Deronda himself is the subject of narrative concern. Leavis notes 'GE' in the right-hand margin against this sentence, for example: 'His imagination had so wrought itself to the habit of seeing things as they probably appeared to others, that a strong partisanship, unless it were against an immediate oppression, had become an insincerity for him' p. On three occasions Leavis uses 'GE' to identify Eliot as the source of epigraphs or mottoes to chapters in Daniel Deronda.

    Leavis correctly attributes epigraphs to Chapters 18 and 38 to George Eliot's hand. He seems less certain about the authorship of the epigraph to the final chapter of the novel,writing 'GE? The epigraph is George Eliot's. Leavis's question mark may refer specifically to her use of 'one' in the epigraph, 'our' and 'us' in its second sentence. Similarly, Leavis's placing of 'GE' in the right-hand margin alongside the second stanza of her epigraph to Chapter 18 p.

    Narrative pronoun usage does seem to prompt Leavis's marginal 'GE'. For example, the last sentence of the final paragraph of Chapter 32 reads: 'The admirable arrangements of the solar system, by which our time is measured, always supply us with a term before which it is hardly worthwhile to set about anything we are disinclined to' p. In his right-hand margin Leavis writes 'GE 60' against this. In the right-hand margin by the brief three-sentence conclusion to Chapter 35 p. In Chapter 55 Grandcourt's drowning is conveyed through Deronda's experience as he takes 'his evening walk' on the quay at Genoa.

    Attention has focused on a boat which is drifting out at sea, and there is speculation on the quayside: 'a Frenchman who had no glass would rather say that it was milord who had probably taken his wife out to drown her, according to the national practice — a remark which an English skipper immediately Leavis as Reader of Daniel Deronda 31 commented on in our native idiom as nonsense which — had undergone a mining operation , and further dismissed by the decision that the reclining figure was a woman' p.

    Leavis's left-hand margin, the words from 'an English skipper' to 'and further', contain his 'GE 60'. Leavis's 'GE' is also found by passages of authorial intrusion when the author uses 'we'. In Chapter 7 the comparison of 'Goodness' to nature and harvest prompts Leavis's 'GE': 'Goodness is a large, often a prospective word; like harvest, which at one stage when we talk of it lies all underground, with an indeterminate future' p. There are occasions in Leavis's marginalia in which 'GE' is used for comparative purposes.

    For instance, in Chapter 45, lines from an Italian nationalist song reverberate in Daniel Deronda's mind: 'they seemed the very voice of that heroic passion which is falsely said to devote itself in vain when it achieves the godlike end of manifesting unselfish love. And that passion was present to Deronda now' p. The initials — which I take to be those of W. Yeats - are placed by the translation of Leopardi's lines: 'Do none of thy children defend thee? At Genoa Gwendolen becomes more and more estranged from her husband.

    She and Grandcourt are not 'some couple, bending, cheek by cheek, over a bit of work done by the one and delighted in by the other. Leavis's 'GE' is by no means reserved for narrative in which Deronda is the focus of attention. Sometimes Gwendolen is the subject. For instance, at the conclusion to Chapter 7 she reacts negatively to Rex's advances.

    George Eliot writes: 'if any one had asked her why she objected to love-making speeches, Gwendolen would have said laughingly, "Oh, I am tired of them all in the books. She felt passionately averse to this volunteered love' p. Leavis's marginal 'GE' against this passage clearly relates to the 32 F. Leavis last two sentences of direct authorial narrative intrusion.

    A similar instance is seen when Gwendolen's thoughts appertaining to Grandcourt are described: 'True, he was not to have the slightest power over her for Gwendolen had not considered that the desire to conquer is itself a sort of subjection ' p. Leavis's marginal 'GE' relates to the words in parenthesis. The annotative 'GE' is also found in many instances alongside passages in which Lush, Kalonymous, Hans Meyrick and Mirah are the narrative centre.

    The first refers to the chapter in which Deronda discovers that Mordecai is Mirah's brother; the second, to the chapter in which he reveals to Mordecai that Mirah is still alive. A more useful guide to Leavis's marking is found on the end papers. On the first page of the familiar 'New Publications' listing, Leavis notes 'date ' — a reference to the opening sentence of Chapter 58, which on page has, in the left-hand margin, the word 'date'.

    Dating tests were frequently given to Leavis's students and other Cambridge undergraduates. The sentence — 'Extension, we know is a very imperfect measure of things; and the length of the sun's journeying can no more tell us how far life has advanced than the acreage of a field can tell us what growths may be active within us' — no doubt appeared useful to Leavis for this purpose. The final page of 'New Publications' contains what may well be a series of cross-references to relevant material within the novel.

    In the left-hand margin Leavis lists: 'Good prose analysis 29, 30, 36, The ending of the lengthy cumulative opening sentence of Chapter 6 has Leavis's 'GE' in its left-hand margin. He also annotates '60 WX', followed by two vertical lines alongside the words 'one of the exceptional persons who have a parching thirst for a perfection undemanded by their neighbours.

    Leavis wrote in the opening chapter of The Great Tradition that George Eliot 'was capable of understanding Jane Austen's greatness and capable of learning from her. And except for Jane Austen there was no novelist to learn from — none whose work had any bearing on her own essential problems as a novelist. To return to the end papers, the note 'Exams ' clearly relates to material in Chapter 16 and Deronda's problems with the Cambridge examination system - an area not unfamiliar to Leavis.

    His note 'words put together like dominos ' draws attention to moments just prior to Grandcourt's proposal to Gwendolen in Chapter 27, where Eliot comments that 'the subtly-varied drama between man and woman is often such as can hardly be rendered in words put together like dominoes, according to obvious fixed marks' p. The opening sentence of the next long paragraph - 'The little pauses and refined drawlings with which this speech [Grandcourt's] was uttered, gave time for Gwendolen to go through a dream of a life' — has Leavis's annotations in the left-hand margin 'anal, concrete' and 'fs' 'with '60' and a large 'X'.

    The paragraph concentrates on Gwendolen's creation of illusions concerning her future existence with Grandcourt: dreams which all too soon will collapse. An author not usually associated with Leavis is named in the next annotation on the final page of the 'New Publications' listing: 'Congreve '. Leavis writes 'Congreve' in the left-hand margin on p. Leavis's 'C' is also found on p.

    Leavis's '6oW is found in the left-hand margin against the sentences: 'Suitors must often be judged as words are, by the standing and the figure they make in polite society: it is difficult to know much else of them. And all the mother's anxiety turned, not on Grandcourt's character, but 34 F. Leavis on Gwendolen's mood in accepting him'.

    In The Great Tradition Leavis indicates George Eliot's superiority to Congreve: 'Gwendolen's talk is really dramatic, correspondingly significant, and duly "placed". Leavis does not cite this in any of his essays on Daniel Deronda, so it is not clear what 'Prose! The exclamation mark may indicate that he regarded this as an example of 'the worst prose', examples of which 'would take up more room than can be spared' in The Great Tradition.

    This magnificent sentence Leavis, in his right-hand margin, marks 'i. The end paper notation which follows it — 'The religious life ' — similarly accompanies a word, or cluster of words, in the text. Deronda tells Gwendolen, 'The refuge you are needing from personal trouble is the higher, the religious life, which holds an enthusiasm for something more than our own appetites and vanities. Gwendolen's guilt following Grandcourt's drowning is noted by Leavis in the end papers - the 'white, dead face ' — and in the margin with his 'x'.

    This symbol is also used for a further group of words noted at the back of Leavis's copy — 'best society ' — and in the right-hand margin of Chapter Again, 'subdued fervour of sympathy' p. There are five more annotations to be found among the advertisements Leavis as Reader of Daniel Deronda 35 at the back of Leavis's edition the square brackets indicate writing I have not been able to decipher : Comedy Viet, age [ ] acceptance a duty [ ] irony Yearnings Where Leavis gives page references these notes can be explicated.

    Thus '[ ] acceptance a duty ' refers to Gwendolen's uncle's moral strictures found in Chapter 13 concerning her conduct towards Grandcourt. There is a single 'x' in the left-hand margin of page Chapter 20 , where Mab informs Mirah: 'And I carry his signature in a little black-silk bag round my neck to keep off the cramp. And Amy says the multiplicationtable in his name. In Chapter 63, when Daniel tells Mordecai and Mirah that he is a Jew, he is described as 'enjoying one of those rare moments when our yearnings and our acts can be completely one, and the real we behold is our ideal good' p.

    In Leavis's copy the line containing 'our yearnings' has his annotation 'x GE' in the right-hand margin. The end flyleaf of Leavis's copy contains the following notation: pp. LIV insp. Leavis I am determined to be happy — 18 wit 27 fern, touch 32 reflect 78 Grandcourt 81 Gd image 89 99 For instance, the last one repeats a passage found on page , which is marked in Leavis's left-hand margin 'C6o' with double lines. Similarly, 'I am determined to be happy' p.

    The listing of nine illustrations of'gd' - that is, 'good' - images doesn't necessarily mean that the images receive marginal markings, and in some instances it is difficult to see what Leavis is referring to. The passages cited include: 'The young activity within her made a warm current through her terror' p. To Leavis these are all self-evident examples of 'good images'.

    The note 'characteristic moral formulation' and the page references given ', , , , ' all relate to Daniel Deronda. The first three concern Daniel's reactions to Mordecai, the last two his reactions to his mother. Deronda and Mordecai also provide the foundation for the note 'emotional theory '. In the penultimate paragraph of Chapter 43, Deronda 'felt at one with this man [i. Mordecai] who had made a visionary selection of him: the lines of what may be called their emotional theory touched. The next two sentences are lined by him in the same margin with the note 'sig' p. The annotation 'psych ' on the end back paper relates to another set of relationships in the novel.

    George Eliot writes at the end of Chapter 44 that Grandcourt 'had no imagination of anything in her [Gwendolen] but what affected the gratification of his own will; but on this point he had the sensibility which seems like divination' p. This receives Leavis's marks '60' and 'ps' in the left-hand margin.

    Leavis's marginal 'Enthusiast ' refers to Chapter 45 where Deronda tells Mrs Meyrick: 'Mordecai is an enthusiast: I should like to keep that 'word for the highest order of minds' p. Leavis highlights this with a line in his right-hand margin. There are numerous annotations in the margins of Chapter 54, the chapter Leavis in his end paper refers to as a comparison: 'cf.

    The chapter focuses on the Grandcourt-Gwendolen yachting trip. George Eliot's revelation that He [Grandcourt] himself knew what personal repulsion was — nobody better: his mind was much furnished with a sense of what brutes his fellow-creatures were, both masculine and feminine; what odious familiarities they had, what smirks, 'what modes of flourishing their handkerchiefs, what costume, what lavender-water, what bulging eyes, and what foolish notions of making themselves agreeable by remarks which were not wanted p. The third and fourth sentences of the fifteenth paragraph of the chapter, the paragraph beginning with the powerful words 'the embitterment of hatred' p.

    Both are in Chapter 63 and concern Deronda. The first one is associated with 38 F. Leavis the sentence which begins: 'It was as if he had found an added soul in finding his ancestry — his judgment no longer wandering in the mazes of impartial sympathy. Leavis places an 'X' by this in his right-hand margin, with a '60'. The second does not contain the words 'impartial sympathy' but is associated with one or both of Leavis's annotations on page Deronda tells Mordecai 'It is you who have given shape to what, I believe, was an inherited yearning — the effect of brooding, passionate thoughts.

    In the same speech Deronda says to Mordecai, 'Since I began to read and know, I have always longed for some ideal taste, in which I might feel myself the heart and brain of a multitude - some social captainship. In the third chapter Gwendolen informs her mother 'I am determined to be happy — at least not to go on muddling away my life as other people do, being and doing nothing remarkable' p.

    Leavis's left-hand margin has his '60 Isabel Archer A. In the right-hand margin Leavis lines the passage, and places a V against it. But there are other more interesting annotations on the same page. The reference to Gwendolen as 'the princess in exile. The lines 'if she came into the room on a rainy day when everybody else was flaccid and the use of things in general was not apparent to them, there seemed to be a sudden, sufficient reason for keeping up the forms of life' carry the letters 'JA' in the right-hand margin - presumably a reference to Jane Austen, although these lines are quoted with a Jamesian comparison in The Great Tradition.

    And at the foot of the page Leavis writes and underlines the initials of a writer who obsessed him 'DHL'. The Lawrentian associations are not apparent unless they refer to Gwendolen's vitality in a 'room on a rainy day'. Some of Leavis's finest observations in his first two essays on Daniel Deronda are reserved for Klesmer and his impact on Gwendolen. Leavis writes in The Great Tradition that 'It is in the scene between Gwendolen and Grandcourt that George Eliot's mastery of dialogue is most strikingly exhibited. We have it in the brush that follows, in Chapter XI, in their being introduced to each other'.

    Leavis's marked copy of the Blackwood single volume 'New Edition' of Daniel Deronda demonstrates the assiduity of attention he paid as a reader of George Eliot's last novel. His annotations, not unsurprisingly, contain elements crucial to his critical methodology: comparison with other authors; close attention to specific verbal detail; concern with authorial intrusion; moral preoccupation and valuation; discerning, and evaluating, the 'good' from the 'bad' or prosaic, etc. Perhaps the surprise is that Leavis's comments are not more detailed and wordy. He hardly writes a sentence whilst in the act of reading, confining himself to linings and other hieroglyphics.

    Leavis reserved his slightly lengthier annotations to his end papers, which have served as the main guide to this journey into his reading of Daniel Deronda. But Chapters 34, 62, 67, 68 are the only ones which do not contain markings. Leavis reads with pencil in hand ready to score anything that attracts his attention.

    Ideas, images, the aptness of a phrase, and the narrative stances associate with Leavis's critical method. The reading process becomes a continuum between immersion in another's text Eliot's and Leavis's own creativity, selecting and adapting what will be useful to him, or remembering what was useful to him or what remains in his mind from previous readings.

    The annotations are a conductor's, and a great conductor's at that, going through a great score. Leavis's is an individual reading. Examination and description of his markings in his copy allow participation in the private journey of a great critic, F. Leavis, as a reader of a great novel, Daniel Deronda. The pre-i96o annotations are also the prelude to a more unusual development later in his career.

    He completed the work for this project, and wrote an Introduction for it which has since been published.

    1. The Saga of the Volsungs.
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    4. The abridged novel itself was never published, however, largely because The Bodley Head were unable to find an American or paperback publisher to share the costs of production. He noted early on that the Deronda and Gwendolen plots 'stand apart, in fairly neatly separable masses' and concluded that 'as for the bad part. And to extricate it for separate publication as Gwendolen Harleth seems to me the most likely way of getting recognition for it.

      Gwendolen Harleth would have some rough edges, but it would be a self-sufficient and very substantial whole it would by modern standards be a decidedly long novel. Deronda would be confined to what was necessary for his role of lay-confessor to Gwendolen, and the final cut would come after the death by drowning, leaving us with a vision of Gwendolen as she painfully emerges from her hallucinated worst conviction of guilt and confronts the day-light fact about Deronda's intentions.

      There was 'the great George Eliot', the supremely intelligent and creative artist, and the 'idealizing' George Eliot, who identified too personally with Maggie Tulliver and her successors - Dorothea in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda himself. The other novels also divided into good and bad parts, depending on which George Eliot had the writing hand: Leavis spoke of 'the live part' of Felix Holt and 'an unreduced enclave of the old immaturity' in Middlemarch.

      But it was only in Daniel Deronda that the parts were so obviously separable. Leavis's basic diagnosis of George Eliot's 'case' remained unchanged in his essay on Daniel Deronda. But he now seemed ambivalent about the operation he had recommended. Reading Daniel Deronda, he suggested, we are unmoved by Deronda 'a mere emotionalized postulate' and 'can't help thinking of trying to separate off Gwendolen Harleth. But it was better not to go beyond the 'thinking' stage.

      Referring back to his earlier, more concrete-seeming proposal, Leavis conceded that after re-reading the whole novel 'my already growing sense that the surgery of disjunction would be a less simple and satisfactory affair than I had thought has been reinforced. The background to the Gwendolen Harleth project can be partly traced from the relevant file in The Bodley Head Archives, now kept at Reading University.

      The project was not initiated by Leavis but by an editor at The Bodley Head, and was inspired by his first rather than his second essay. What you say seems to me so just that I would like to try to persuade you to put your own suggestion into practice and produce an extricated Gwendolen Harleth with editorial linking passages where necessary.

      With your authority behind it Gwendolen Harleth could, I believe, win a new range of readers for George Eliot. Leavis's initial response was cautious. He promised to consider Michie's suggestion, but he was preoccupied with completing the book that would 42 F. Michie succeeded in quickening his interest, however. Leavis reported in November that he had started re-reading the novel 'mainly between 5 and 7 in the morning' and was 'more than ever impressed by its distinction'. By the end of February he was confident that Gwendolen Harleth was viable and was ready to commit himself to the project.

      A formal agreement was then made: Leavis would provide The Bodley Head with a copy of the Torchbook edition of Daniel Deronda marked up with all the excisions and additions necessary to turn it into Gwendolen Harleth and would also provide a preface explaining and justifying the project. The agreement between Leavis and The Bodley Head specified delivery of the material by the end of But Leavis had already spent several months thinking his way into the project and lost no time now in completing it: he had submitted the Introduction and 'liberated' text by the end of April The editing task was made more straightforward by the conclusion he had already reached, in the course of re-reading Daniel Deronda, that a coherent and self-contained Gwendolen Harleth could be produced 'by mere excision' — without the addition of any editorial text.

      Even the excisions were fairly straightforward, since Leavis was reluctant to tamper with George Eliot's prose: he mostly carved away Chapters and blocks of Chapters rather than individual sentences or paragraphs. This encompassed almost all of Gwendolen's story, except for one or two quite important incidents where her relation to Deronda could not be disentangled from his relation to Mordecai, Mirah and the Meyricks - who otherwise vanished, along with Princess Halm-Eberstein. In addition to this basic abridgement, Leavis abandoned the division of the text into separately titled books, removed all the Chapter and book epigraphs many of which, as he recognized, were written by George Eliot herself , and renumbered the Chapters in arabic rather than roman numerals.

      Leavis Leavis's part in the project was now more or less complete. Michie thanked him for his 'successful and speedy work' and informed him that Gwendolen Harleth was scheduled for publication in January It seemed that publication of Gwendolen Harleth could be a relatively 'simple and satisfactory affair' after all. At this point, however, a series of problems arose which in the end made publication impossible. The first setback was a very hostile report on the new text from one of Michie's professional readers herself a novelist.