A Selection from Scrutiny: Volume 1 (v. 1) by F. R. Leavis

By F. R. Leavis

Dr Leavis's choice from Scrutiny offers in volumes very important fabric which isn't simply to be had in different places. notwithstanding many recognized books have already been derived from Scrutiny, those volumes don't replica fabric in these books, they usually provide loads of another way uncollected fabric by means of Dr & Mrs Leavis themselves. the choice concentrates on English literature and literary feedback, and in addition displays Scrutiny's good fortune, from the Nineteen Thirties to the Fifties, in commenting at the vital writers of the time. quantity I starts off with a suite of reports via Mrs Q. D. Leavis on educational traditions. There follows a bit of stories of T. S. Eliot, Yeats, Pound, and more moderen poets. sections on 'Literary tradition' and 'The Literary global' touch upon minor writers and on literary lifestyles and associations (including Dr Leavis's celebrated 'Keynes, Spender and foreign money Values').

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When it comes to judgment, he says,' the test which Leslie Stephen applied was the relation of a work to life, the extent to which it ministered, in one way or another, to all human good'. This is not the best way of explaining Stephen's critical values, but we can gather the force of Mr MacCarthy's objections. Those of us who do not choose to linger in the aesthetic vacuum of the 'nineties can afford the courage of asserting that we agree with Leslie Stephen and not Mr MacCarthy. Mr MacCarthy's critical position is revealed as the last heritage of the 'nineties (not the Cambridge 'nineties).

Meanwhile it is my belief that nobody is the better in any department of life or literature for being a fool or a brute: and least of all in poetry. I cannot think that a man is disqualified for poetry either by thinking more deeply than others or by having a keener perception of (I hope I may join the two words) moral beauty. When Arnold called poetry a criticism of life, he only meant to express what seems to me an undeniable truth. Critics in an earlier day conceived their function to be judicial.

Our faith in an author must, in the first instance, be the product of instinctive sympathy, instead of deliberate reason. But when we are seeking to justify our emotions, we must endeavour to get for the time into the position of an independent spectator, applying with rigid impartiality such methods as are best calculated to free us from the influence of personal bias. Coleridge's specific merit was not, I think, that he laid down any scientific theory. He was something almost unique in this as in his poetry, first because his criticism was the criticism of a man who combined the first simple impulse of admiration with the power of explaining why he admired; and secondly, and as a result, because he placed himself at the right point of view; because, to put it briefly, he was the first great writer who criticized poetry as poetry, and not as science.

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