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Endearingness

Donald Davie

21 March 1991
The Oxford Book of Essays 
edited by John Gross.
Oxford, 680 pp., £17.95, February 1991, 0 19 214185 6
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... performs no public function. Self-justifying means self-regarding. And where Charles Lamb is concerned, the sickliness of this has been recognised and condemned. It was one of the Leavisites – DenysThompson, I believe – who put the boot in on the Essays of Elia; and this was one of the Leavisite demolition-jobs that truly cleared a space, and let the air in, for a more than academic public ...

Whose Candyfloss?

Christopher Hilliard: Richard Hoggart

16 April 2014
Richard Hoggart: Virtue and Reward 
by Fred Inglis.
Polity, 259 pp., £25, October 2013, 978 0 7456 5171 2
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... of films, popular fiction and the press with empirical research on the way mass culture was produced and consumed. The lecture was printed in the teachers’ journal Use of English, whose editor was DenysThompson, a grammar school headmaster and former Scrutiny co-editor. Thompson was the person who did most to extend F.R. Leavis’s brand of literary criticism into the terrain of mass culture and to ...

Moments

Marilyn Butler

2 September 1982
The New Pelican Guide to English Literature. Vol. I: Medieval Literature Part One: Chaucer and the Alliterative Tradition, Vol. II: The Age of Shakespeare, Vol. III: From Donne to Marvell, Vol. IV: From Dryden to Johnson 
edited by Boris Ford.
Penguin, 647 pp., £2.95, March 1982, 0 14 022264 2
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Medieval Writers and their Work: Middle English Literature and its Background 
by J.A. Burrow.
Oxford, 148 pp., £9.95, May 1982, 0 19 289122 7
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Contemporary Writers Series: Saul Bellow, Joe Orton, John Fowles, Kurt Vonnegut, Seamus Heaney, Thomas Pynchon 
by Malcolm Bradbury, C.W.E. Bigsby, Peter Conradi, Jerome Klinkowitz and Blake Morrison.
Methuen, 110 pp., £1.95, May 1982, 0 416 31650 6
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... says Francis Mulhern in his book The Moment of ‘Scrutiny’, ‘was that commanded by F.R. Leavis and the early graduates of Cambridge English, [D.W.] Harding, [L.C.] Knights, Q.D. Leavis and [Denys] Thompson – five authors who, in aggregate, wrote on virtually every topic that Scrutiny ever discussed. The second Scrutiny generation, led by [R.G.] Cox and Ford, was markedly more restricted in ...

Placing Leavis

Geoffrey Hartman

24 January 1985
The Leavises: Recollections and Impressions 
edited by Denys Thompson.
Cambridge, 207 pp., £15, October 1984, 0 521 25494 9
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The Social Mission of English Criticism: 1848-1932 
by Chris Baldick.
Oxford, 264 pp., £19.50, August 1983, 0 19 812821 5
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Radical Earnestness: English Social Theory 1880-1980 
by Fred Inglis.
Robertson, 253 pp., £16.50, November 1982, 0 85520 328 5
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The Critic as Anti-Philosopher: Essays and Papers by F.R. Leavis 
edited by G. Singh.
Chatto, 208 pp., £9.95, November 1982, 0 7011 2644 2
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... to be a passing fad. The scandal-maker of the 1930s became, by a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, part of the saving remnant on which the future of reading would depend. The photo on the cover of DenysThompson’s The Leavises shows him in a jacket impermeable to the insults of time and with the open shirt of a Labour leader. He looks indeed, as his wife wrote of both of them, ‘grey-haired and ...
20 April 1989
A Culture for Democracy: Mass Communication and the Cultivated Mind in Britain between the Wars 
by D.L. LeMahieu.
Oxford, 396 pp., £35, June 1988, 0 19 820137 0
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... the discriminating powers of the mind’. ‘Discrimination’ was a crucial item of Leavisian terminology and, as recently as 1964, there was a Pelican volume edited by his former collaborator, DenysThompson, called Discrimination and Popular Culture. Nowadays that would probably be consigned to the Race Relations shelf: ‘discrimination’ as a positive term is hardly available any longer ...

I Will Tell You Everything

Rosemary Hill: Iris Murdoch

22 April 2010
Iris Murdoch: A Writer at War – Letters and Diaries 1939-45 
edited by Peter Conradi.
Short Books, 303 pp., £16.99, January 2010, 978 1 906021 22 1
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With Love and Rage: A Friendship with Iris Murdoch 
by David Morgan.
Kingston, 143 pp., £13.99, March 2010, 978 1 899999 42 2
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... journal evokes a Betjemanesque interwar world of japes and ginger biscuits, ‘strenuous breakfasts’ and undergraduate tantrums. ‘Apparently while I was singing “Love is a sickness” yesterday Denys [Becher] gave an appalling display of temperament because he couldn’t find his tights.’ The Magpies went over very well in Aston Bampton, where the local children did some songs and dances in the ...

As if Life Depended on It

John Mullan: With the Leavisites

12 September 2013
Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English 
by David Ellis.
Liverpool, 151 pp., £25, April 2013, 978 1 84631 889 4
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English as a Vocation: The ‘Scrutiny’ Movement 
by Christopher Hilliard.
Oxford, 298 pp., £57, May 2012, 978 0 19 969517 1
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The Two Cultures? The Significance of C.P. Snow 
by F.R. Leavis.
Cambridge, 118 pp., £10.99, August 2013, 978 1 107 61735 3
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... his students, and others like Peter Hall went to his seminars and admired him. Above all his influence was exercised via the students who became teachers, mostly in grammar schools. Leavisites like DenysThompson and Raymond O’Malley produced English textbooks for them to use and edited the journal Use of English, which provided model lessons and exercises. It also promoted practical criticism ...

How stupid people are

John Sturrock: Flaubert

7 September 2006
Bouvard and Pecuchet 
by Gustave Flaubert, translated by Mark Polizzotti.
Dalkey Archive, 328 pp., £8.99, January 2006, 1 56478 393 6
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Flaubert: A Life 
by Frederick Brown.
Heinemann, 629 pp., £25, May 2006, 0 434 00769 2
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... to or observe the French bourgeoisie doing its daily best to infuriate him, there was still reassuring evidence of stupidity on hand – and none more eye-catching than that left behind him by ‘Thompson of Sunderland’, a vandal out of the North who had scrawled his name and address on Pompey’s column in Alexandria in letters that Flaubert claims could be read ‘a quarter of a league away ...

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