“A Defeat without a War”


I have read your recent article, Peace in Our Time, with great interest and, if I may say so, with approbation. In particular, your observation that “Justifying this policy [of providing platforms to those who are hostile to Leavis] on the ground of ‘inclusiveness’ is a pitiful sophistry.”  It is certainly that, but more: it is as if Leavis had given over the pages of Scrutiny to Tillyard, Grigson, Spender and C. P. Snow.  “Thank God you said it.”  Leavis reportedly received that remark from admirers of his Richmond Lecture; it is my own response to your piece, as it must surely have been that of many other readers.  I am grateful to you for highlighting the relevant note from my previous communication.

You will, I imagine, not wish to reveal the identity of your correspondent, but might we ask you to give a fuller account of his “questioning” of your opposition to the Leavis Society, which you describe, rightly so far as one can judge, as essentially anti-Leavisian under its present management?


Quite simply, my correspondent proposed that this site should drop its opposition to the Leavis Society and join it in its ‘goal of trying to get recognition for a man who transcends his era’. Unfortunately, far from furthering the admirable end my correspondent credits it with, the Leavis Society has actively discouraged just appreciation of Leavis’s genius and achievement. This is not only attested by its use of Leavis’s name to promote crude political propaganda that is antithetical to the spirit of his work, but also by its sponsorship of such conspicuous anti-Leavisians as Professor Belsey, for whom it has provided a platform in accordance with the insidious policy of ‘inclusiveness’ and ‘dialogue’ articulated by the editor of its newsletter. In these circumstances, an accommodation with the Leavis Society is no less than appeasement of the enemy,* as I indicated in my title. There is nothing more to add, except to say that I am grateful to my correspondent for challenging me to justify my position towards the Leavis Society; and also to thank him for his kind assurance that he ‘very much’ enjoyed the material this site has published and has a ‘great deal’ of sympathy with ‘most of’ it, especially ‘the criticism of (the newsletter’s) first editorial’. These supportive comments are greatly appreciated.


* Another reader has written in with a pertinent reminder that ‘appeasement is always barren and results in “a defeat without a war”‘.