F.R. Leavis

By Hopkins, Chris | Style, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview

F.R. Leavis


Hopkins, Chris, Style


Richard Storer. F.R. Leavis. (Routledge Critical Thinkers series). Oxford: Routledge, 2009. xiv + 147 pages.

Richard Storer's guide to F.R. Leavis as critical thinker is a very good book, as a model of how to write clearly for a student readership, without any loss of complexity, subtlety or originality, and equally as a new study of Leavis's thought and its continuing influence. The book fulfils its author's intention, then, in being successfully introductory and genuinely exploratory:

Although I have organised this book with the student in mind, it would be particularly ironic if a book on Leavis addressed only the student and not any wider readership. So I have tried as much as possible to make this a book which will interest other readers ... Leavis himself was fairly unequivocal on what he thought of introductory "aids to study," referring to the "immense, the monstrous, industry of book-manufacture addressed to the vast new student-populace." (9-10)

This is certainly not a piece of "book-manufacture," though I hope it will reach a large student-populace: it never simplifies, or reduces, except in the sense that it states and analyses as clearly as possible the origins, problems, strengths and possibilities to be found in Leavis's critical thinking and practices. Any reader, whether a student or an academic who has read the considerable critical literature on Leavis, should find new insights here, based in Storer's comprehensive knowledge of Leavis's writings and their reception, from the early nineteen-thirties pamphlet, How to Teach Reading: a Primer for Ezra Pound, to the collections of posthumous works by his literary executor, G Singh (1968 and 1986), and on into the large secondary literature on Leavis, the Leavises, and the Leavisites.

The study is organized in eight chapters centring on what Storer identifies as Leavis's key ideas: "Literary Criticism, theory and philosophy"; "Culture"; "New Bearings"; "Great Traditions"; "Close Reading"; "English, education and the university"; and "Life." Each chapter gives a clear sense of how such key ideas were developed and received between the nineteen-thirties and the nineteen-eighties and goes on to carefully-balanced considerations of (and challenges to) what have sometimes become mechanically orthodox ways of placing Leavis. Thus, for example, Storer argues that:

Contrary to what is generally believed about Leavis, it is actually one of the most deeply ingrained characteristics of his literary criticism to analyze a text in relation to its context - to assess the individual achievement as part of the life of the community rather than just as "words on the page". . . [though] in terms different from those which critics usually have in mind when they insist on context. (59)

And that when it came to close reading,

the idea of total isolation of the text from any kind of context does not really correspond to Leavis's approach. What he sought to produce from a close reading was rather a concrete instance of a more general reading of the period - perhaps even ... a narrative of tradition and development between periods. (87)

This awareness of what has usually been said about Leavis, as well as an ability to argue for alternatives based on a deep and wide knowledge of Leavis's work, and a willingness to suggest further things which might yet be said, are fundamental strengths for the whole book.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

F.R. Leavis
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.