Friday, 3 February F. He blames the shift in culture due to lack of tradition. Throughout the article Leavis expresses his desire to keep the traditions of the past alive. This restricts the working class from gaining access to culture as education was limited.

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Leavis F. Leavis was one of the most influential figures in English twentieth century literary criticism. As a lecturer at Cambridge University, Leavis set out, through works such as Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture and New Bearings in English Poetry , to transform English Studies from a secondary subject, considered far less important than the classics, into a discipline of trained critical awareness and high moral vocation. From T.

From the literary critic and linguist I. Richards he derived certain crucial ideas about the importance of "the training of sensibility", to ensure that such texts could be analysed in detail, and appropriate value-judgements made on them.

In a sense, therefore, Leavis had nothing especially original to say - except, perhaps, his absolute and unshakeable belief in the importance of English Literature as a discipline of thought. In a survey, published in the Times Higher Education Supplement, he was ranked the second most popular critic in British polytechnic [now university] and college English courses after Roland Barthes1. In Commonwealth countries in particular - India, South Africa, and former African colonies - his ideas have influenced the teaching of literature in schools and universities Bradbrook It is also my contention that, even though no direct influence can be traced he seldom visited other countries apart from America ,2 Leavis has helped to determine the pedagogic tradition of English Studies in the Turkish Republic.

I want to demonstrate this by focusing on his major preoccupations - the belief in tradition, the necessity for close reading of a literary text especially a poem - and the overriding concern for the importance of English Literature. Through extracts from recent essays and interviews, I will subsequently show how such preoccupations are as important for colleagues working in Turkish departments of English Literature, as they were for Leavis himself.

Leavis himself was well aware of the importance of keeping traditions alive. In the pamphlet Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture , he expressed concern at the "desperate plight of culture to-day"; a culture dominated by mass-production, the popular press, media and film Leavis Any belief in the "continuities" of society, more precisely defined as "the delicate traditional adjustments, the mature, inherited codes of habit and valuation" had been sacrificed in pursuit of "the cheapest emotional appeals, appeals the more insidious because they are associated with a compellingly vivid illusion of actual life" Leavis , It was vitally necessary to recover "the implicit standards that order the finer living of an age, the sense that this is worth more than that, this rather than that is the direction in which to go, that the centre is here rather than there" Leavis - something which could only be accomplished through "long-term intercourse with the best models" of the past Leavis For Leavis, tradition was not something dead and buried; at its best, it provided certain standards of thought and behaviour which could be used to determine the future.

This notion was outlined in Culture and Environment, a teaching primer written in collaboration with Denys Thompson, and published in Most people lived for their work, and their use of leisure was shaped accordingly. As a result, the traditions of recreation have died with the old ways of work from which they were inseparable. Men are now incapacitated by their work, which makes leisure necessary as it was not before, from using their leisure for humane recreation, that is, in pursuits that make them feel self-fulfilled and make life significant, dignified and satisfying.

Whilst Leavis realised that pre-industrial communities could not be resurrected in the industrial era, he nonetheless advocated the restoration of "the continuity of consciousness", which kept pre-industrial traditions alive, "for the memory of the old order must be the chief incitement towards a new, if ever we are to have one" Leavis This he believed could be accomplished through the study of great authors from the past, such as Shakespeare, Donne, Conrad or D.

Two points need to be made at this juncture. This was most evident in the work of T. Eliot which, in spite of its "seeming disjointedness" and its "wealth of literary borrowings and allusions", nonetheless reflected "the present state of civilisation.

The traditions and cultures have mingled, and the historical imagination makes the past contemporary" Leavis It is the case for every speaking subject that immediacy, spontaneity and direct presence are necessarily deflected by the universalising, classificatory force of language. Alienation of the kind attributed to modern civilisation by Leavis is inescapable in every human culture there has ever been Easthope, Nonetheless, his belief in the potential of literary texts to provide solutions to the problems of contemporary civilisation continues to exert a powerful influence, nearly seventy years after Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture first appeared.

Note the use of language here: literature is something that should be independent of "market value", on account of its "lasting and universal importance" I will return to its "scholarly and intellectual" aspects later on. I would suggest that this has been achieved through a two-fold process of demonstrating how literary texts sustain a "continuity of consciousness" between the present and the past, and by reshaping literary traditions in the interests of Turkish civilisation.

In Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture Leavis called for the creation of "implicit standards that order the finer living of an age"; in Turkish terms, such standards have been created by educating successive generations of English Literature graduates who not only possess excellent language skills, but who "are much more understanding, much more tolerant, and open to new ideas.

At this point, I must reiterate that I am not trying to prove that Leavis has directly influenced the outlook of English departments in Turkey. This can be further demonstrated by considering his approach to literary criticism, which was founded on what he termed the "training of sensibility"4 Everything must start from the training of sensibility … It should, by continual insistence and varied exercise in analysis, be enforced that literature is made of words, and that everything worth saying in criticism of verse and prose can be related to judgments concerning particular arrangements of words on the page.

That is what is testified to in the commonplace that a great artist creates the taste by which he is appreciated" Leavis Although Leavis adopted an anti-theoretical stance towards literary criticism, this did not mean to say that he favoured mere fact-gathering - an activity which, in his view, also inhibited "real understanding" of a text.

A student with "sensibility" should be able to understand the meanings of words that were already adequately constituted by the writer in the words on a page. The "life" of such words enabled students to grasp the relationship between the universal and the particular; how words and the traditions they embody are reshaped in particular contexts, so that the universal civilizing force of great literature may be appreciated.

Such an approach, Leavis believed, would validate literary criticism as "a discipline of intelligence, with its own field, and its own approaches within that field" Leavis More significantly, it might serve to create a new generation of "intelligent and cultivated persons … enough to be a potential influence of great value" to society Leavis It was this continuing "ignorance" which led to the collapse of standards in modern civilisation Leavis Who decides whether those who have acquired "sensibility", can pronounce judgement on others?

What about those who are unable to study in an English department? And is it really the case that the health of society depends upon a just appreciation of literature? These criticisms, however, have a reflex air about them, for they do not really attempt to engage with what Leavis was trying to prove. His basic notion was that there exists a connection between language as studied in literary texts and life, a proposition that can hardly be denied. He also claimed that great literature promotes a deeper awareness of life - whether past, present or future - than does, for example, popular journalism, television or film.

Consequently literary criticism had a specifically moral purpose, helping to maintain a vital and living connection between tradition, language and lived experience. Several Turkish colleagues have expressed similar enthusiasm for a literary education.

Perhaps it was this belief which encouraged many English departments to reject a philology-based curriculum based on language teaching, with only limited opportunities for studying literature in favour of literature in the s and s. As indicated earlier on in this paper, English Literature departments are still committed to maintaining "scholarly and intellectual" standards of critical practice, by investigating material that "says something about fundamental human issues and which is permanent in the sense that it transcends both time and culture".

Compared to other texts - newspapers, or films - literature provides a "much more refined" means for students to learn how to "express themselves more effectively" in English, as well as acquiring "sensitivity to language and intuitive awareness".

Following the example set by I. Richards and William Empson6, Leavis was an unashamed advocate of the study of poetry. His groundbreaking study of New Bearings in English Poetry explains why: Poetry matters because of the kind of poet who is more alive than other people, more alive in his own age.

He is, as it were, at the most conscious point of the race in his time. The potentialities of human experience in any age are realized only by a tiny minority, and the important poet is important because he belongs to this and has also, the power of communication ….

He is a poet because his interest in his experience is not separable from his interest in words; because, that is, of his habit of seeking by the evocative use of words to sharpen his awareness of his ways of feeling, so making these communicable Leavis Through their "evocative use of words", poetry provides the ideal means for aspiring literary critics to acquire the kind of sensibility which enables them to make informed and intelligent judgements.

By contrast, the selection of texts in Turkish academic curricula has been far more extensive, including poetry, drama, novels and critical theory.

Engin Uzmen recalled that the final three years of the four-year undergraduate programme at Ankara University in the s and 50s "corresponded to the usual English Department system in England" Uzmen It contained poetry, novel and drama courses, as well as an introduction to literary criticism, which took the form of an historical survey from the Elizabethan period to modern times, and included selections from the work of Sidney, Dryden, Addison and Steele, Johnson, and Coleridge. This course remains an important component of most undergraduate English Literature curricula, although its focus has been expanded to include modernist and postmodernist critics.

Two of the most popular critics, whose work is regularly included on such courses chiefly because it has been included in the Norton Anthology of English Literature are Alexander Pope and Matthew Arnold, who were both concerned with the contribution made by literature and literary criticism to the health of society. Such views on criticism and its social function have been especially important in Turkish departments of English Literature, which have endeavoured to contribute to the development of the national culture by providing courses of study that combine the best social, economic, and academic practices from the west with local expertise.

That can mean European, American, or British ideas - whatever sources prove the most useful. We have to create a synthesis of such ideas with our own methodologies to study our own culture, as well to form new independent opinions of foreign cultures Halman 1. By taking courses in the history of literary criticism, students are not only exposed to what is perceived as the best of western thinking Pope, Arnold, Leavis , but should also learn how to develop that knowledge for the benefit of Turkish society.

This requires students and academics alike to question the validity of what they are reading. Both Arnold and Leavis were specifically concerned with the health of English society - Leavis in particular hoped that England, the country of "Shakespeare, Dickens, Lawrence and Blake", should not become "just a province of the American world". He was not anti-American; rather he endeavoured to resist the gradual trend towards mass education, something he considered symptomatic of "essential Americanization - under which they themselves [the Americans] wilt" Leavis For many Turkish academics, the "problem" of Americanization does not exist: courses in American Literature and Culture were incorporated into English departmental curricula as early as the s, while many of the fledgling departments of American Culture and Literature, which were established during the s and 80s, were staffed by English Literature graduates.

To achieve such goals, English Departments in Turkey place particular importance on the social mission of English criticism, as expressed by Leavis and his predecessors. What is clearly evident here is a concern to maintain a Leavisian "continuity of consciousness" between past and present. From a British perspective, such concerns may seem representative of an approach to literary criticism which achieved popularity during the middle of the last century, but which has now been superseded by other approaches.

By demystifying Leavis, one can perceive the partisan or value-laden character of his writing; how it excluded certain texts by suggesting that certain writers did not deserve to be included in the canon of "great literature" - even if they had been considered important during their lifetime.

This kind of judgement not only applied to non-literary texts - such as newspapers or popular fiction - but to writers such as Milton, Shelley or Virginia Woolf.

If such is the case, then we might be prompted to ask why Leavis, in common with other critics who have formed part of the social mission of literary criticism, retains his importance in Turkish departments of English Literature. One explanation has already been suggested in the opening paragraphs of this paper - despite the new developments in critical and cultural theory, Leavis remains a popular subject for study in schools and universities all over the world.

In the Turkish context, undergraduates still take introductory courses in the history of English criticism, focusing on Arnold, Pope and Sidney and Leavis, to a lesser extent , which serve as a basis for the study of contemporary critical approaches. On the other hand, the objective of these courses is one that Leavis might have certainly sympathized with; to create a new generation of critically informed graduates, who could not only teach such courses if they chose to remain in academe , but who could produce "a volume of critical writings in Turkish for the Turkish audience.

What is clearly apparent here is that, far from rejecting the literary tradition represented by Arnold, Leavis and others, many Turkish colleagues have redefined it, so that it can accommodate courses in contemporary theory.

Throughout this paper, I have suggested that, whereas Leavis himself may appear "a bizarre, antiquated, moralistic figure, whose neglect is sad, but unsurprising" to a journalist writing in The Daily Telegraph "Paperbacks", , his work remains important in many literature departments.

Literature, and literary traditions were undoubtedly important, but they had to be continually reinvented in order to survive. If this task could be accomplished collaboratively, involving students and lecturers in an English department, then so much the better.

But such questions are beyond the scope of this paper. Such ideas, as recent Leavis criticism has shown, are easy to caricature but difficult to comprehend. Bradbrook, M. Leavis, F. London, Chatto and Windus, : McKillop, Ian , F.

Leavis: a biography, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul : vii-xv. Richards, a near-contemporary at Cambridge University, who was much involved in the transformation of the English Literature course from an adjunct of the Medieval and Modern Languages Tripos into an independent Honours course. The analysis of literature became a collaborative social exercise, with students and teachers evaluating their reactions to a given text.

As a student of both Richards and latterly Leavis, M. Bradbrook recalled that "the best of our work was done by direct contact …. See also F. Leavis, Letters in Criticism, ed.


Mass Civilization and Minority Culture by F. R. Leavis - 1930

Leavis F. Leavis was one of the most influential figures in English twentieth century literary criticism. As a lecturer at Cambridge University, Leavis set out, through works such as Mass Civilisation and Minority Culture and New Bearings in English Poetry , to transform English Studies from a secondary subject, considered far less important than the classics, into a discipline of trained critical awareness and high moral vocation. From T.


F. R. Leavis

Leavis wrote that The potentialities of human experience in any age are realized by only a tiny minority, and the important poet is important because he belongs to this and has also, of course, the power of communication Almost all of us live by routine, and are not fully aware of what we feel; or, if that seems paradoxical, we do not express to ourselves an account of our possibilities of experience The poet is unusually sensitiv, unusually aware, more sincere and more himself thatn the ordinary man can be. He knows what he feels and knows what he is interested in. He is a poet because his interest in his experience is not separable from his interest in words. They are still a small minority, though a larger one, who are capable of endorsing such first-hand judgment by genuine personal response. The minority capable not only of appreciating Dante, Shakespeare, Donne, Baudelaire, Hardy to take major instances but of recognising their latest successors constitute the consciousness of the race or of a branch of it at a given time.


His father was a cultured man who ran a shop in Cambridge that sold pianos and other musical instruments, [1] and his son was to retain a respect for him throughout his life. Leavis was educated at a fee-paying independent school in English terms a minor public school , The Perse School , whose headmaster was Dr W. Rouse was a classicist and known for his "direct method", a practice which required teachers to carry on classroom conversations with their pupils in Latin and classical Greek. Though he had some fluency in foreign languages, Leavis felt that his native language was the only one on which he was able to speak with authority. His extensive reading in the classical languages is not therefore strongly evident in his work. Leavis is quoted as saying: "But after the Bloody Somme there could be no question for anyone who knew what modern war was like of joining the army.

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