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20 December 1979
The Moment of ‘Scrutiny’ 
by Francis Mulhern.
New Left Books, 354 pp., £11.75
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The Literary Criticism of F.R. Leavis 
by R.P. Bilan.
Cambridge, 338 pp., £12.50
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... reissue of Scrutiny in 1963 should have made it possible to evaluate at last the achievement of F.R. and Q.D. Leavis and their colleagues with some degree of unanimity. Here at last were the actual essays, beautifully reprinted and laid out, essays which had been virtually unobtainable for ...

Manly Decency

Boris Ford

23 April 1992
... To arrive in Cambridge to study English literature with F.R. Leavis in the mid-Thirties was an act, on my part, of unconsciously astute timing. Since coming to Downing in 1932 as Director of Studies in English, he had written New Bearings in English Poetry and Revaluation, among other books, and had helped to launch Scrutiny ...

Homelessness

Terry Eagleton

20 June 1996
States of Fantasy 
by Jacqueline Rose.
Oxford, 183 pp., £20, March 1996, 0 19 818280 5
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... In the days of F.R. Leavis, English literary criticism was wary of overseas, a place saddled with effete, Latinate languages without pith or vigour. Proust is relegated to a lofty footnote in Leavis’s The Great Tradition; one of the few foreign writers approved by the Scrutineers, apart from those like James and Conrad who had had the decency to settle in the Home Counties, was Tolstoy, who could be read as a kind of D ...

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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... I once met F.R. Leavis – or almost. It was in October 1977, in a house in Bulstrode Gardens in Cambridge. I had arrived with a group of fellow students for an introductory meeting with our medieval supervisor, Mrs Helena Shire, a formidable Scottish lady of confident views and startling formality ...
16 October 1980
Three Honest Men: Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis, Lionel Trilling 
edited by Philip French.
Carcanet, 120 pp., £6.95, July 1980, 0 85635 299 3
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F.R. Leavis 
by William Walsh.
Chatto, 189 pp., £8.95, September 1980, 0 7011 2503 9
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... Can you name the author who set you thinking? For Philip French, at a Bristol grammar school in the 1950s, the enlighteners were Edmund Wilson, F.R. Leavis and Lionel Trilling. For me, at a Wimbledon grammar school in the 1950s, Bertrand Russell filled the slot on his own, largely because his History of Western Philosophy was so long ...
21 January 1982
... George Eliot called her last novel Daniel Deronda, so that to separate part of it off for publication* under another title than her own might seem to be challenging the judgment, the deliberate and emphatic intention, of the author herself in the most questionable way. But there are two George Eliots, and they both – neither, it seems, embarrassed by consciousness of the duality – play dominating roles in the massive book: they dominate it together as if they were one ...

Performing Seals

Christopher Hitchens: The PR Crowd

10 August 2000
Partisans: Marriage, Politics and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals 
by David Laskin.
Simon and Schuster, 319 pp., $26, January 2000, 0 684 81565 6
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... A man I met told me that F.R. Leavis had once been invited to Columbia University to talk, and was afterwards bidden to a reception in his own honour. The co-editor of Scrutiny had been very much himself and, after his departure, was discussed as visitors tend to be. A certain elderly member of the English Department even observed: ‘He seemed perfectly all right to me ...
24 August 1995
F.R. LeavisA Life in Criticism 
by Ian MacKillop.
Allen Lane, 476 pp., £25, July 1995, 0 7139 9062 7
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... and we knew we were – Cambridge – the essential Cambridge in spite of Cambridge.’ So F.R. Leavis in an exultant moment; and this biography for the most part concentrates on the local conflicts and gestures of defiance the remark implies. To a biographer who was also a pupil of ...

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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... have got historians to stop drilling them in the battles we won, and when geographers no longer offer them maps in which the Empire is coloured red. Penguin Books’ reissue of Boris Ford’s Pelican Guide to English Literature, which first appeared a quarter of a century ago as an ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... Fame is difficult for a writer to deal with,’ Thom Gunn writes in his essay on Allen Ginsberg’s poetry. ‘It dries you up, or it makes you think you are infallible, or your writing becomes puffed out with self-esteem. (Victor Hugo thought himself superior to both Jesus and Shakespeare.) It is a complication that the imagination can well do without ...

Diary

Robert Fothergill: Among the Leavisites

12 September 2019
... In October​ 1958, I became a student of F.R. Leavis at Downing College, Cambridge. I had taken the entrance exams the previous December, including the ‘dating paper’, which involved matching passages of English poetry and prose as closely as possible with their dates of composition. This was Leavis’s special creation, for which I had been coached pretty intensively by teachers at my grammar school in Purley ...

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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... The book’s ideas took shape as Hoggart tried to win his evening-class students over to new ways of reading literature and to seeing advertising as something that could also be ‘read’. He was one of a large number of men and women who committed themselves to furthering the postwar expansion of secondary schooling and ...

Umpteens

Christopher Ricks

22 November 1990
Bloomsbury Dictionary of Dedications 
edited by Adrian Room.
Bloomsbury, 354 pp., £17.99, September 1990, 0 7475 0521 7
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Unauthorised Versions: Poems and their Parodies 
edited by Kenneth Baker.
Faber, 446 pp., £14.99, September 1990, 0 571 14122 6
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The Faber Book of Vernacular Verse 
edited by Tom Paulin.
Faber, 407 pp., £14.99, November 1990, 0 571 14470 5
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... purporting to be a dictionary? Abbott opens, and Zangwill closes, yet the book is not a work of re ference. It is an anthology. A lazy piece of work, or of relaxation, and not just because its compiler has declined the effort of an imaginative ordering and has instead fallen back ...

Speaking well

Christopher Ricks

18 August 1983
Cyril Connolly: Journal and Memoir 
by David Pryce-Jones.
Collins, 304 pp., £12.50, July 1983, 0 333 32827 2
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J.B. Yeats: Letters to His Son W.B. Yeats and Others, 1869-1922 
edited with a memoir by Joseph Hone.
Secker, 296 pp., £7.95, May 1983, 0 436 59205 3
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... refuses to recognise virtue in anyone but himself’), and his sponsor David Pryce-Jones now finds F.R. Leavis much the same, so it may be legitimate to cite the famous excoriation of Bloomsbury that was voiced by Lawrence and amplified by Leavis: ‘they talked endlessly, but endlessly – and never, never a good thing ...

Amigos

Christopher Ricks

2 August 1984
The Faber Book of Parodies 
edited by Simon Brett.
Faber, 383 pp., £8.95, May 1984, 0 571 13125 5
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Lilibet: An Account in Verse of the Early Years of the Queen until the Time of her Accession 
by Her Majesty.
Blond and Briggs, 95 pp., £6.95, May 1984, 0 85634 157 6
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