The Leavis Society or How to Construct a Virtual Critic

Richard Stotesbury

To all intents and purposes, Frank Raymond Leavis has been forgotten by the modern world. Practically no one today has heard of him, let alone read anything he wrote. This is regrettable, since Leavis is a seminal figure whose work is as important today as it was in his lifetime. It is therefore natural to suppose that the launch of an association calling itself The Leavis Society, [1] dedicated to stimulating interest in him, would be a salutary development, to be welcomed unreservedly. The first objective listed in the manifesto of the Society is to ‘promote informed appreciation of F. R. Leavis’s work, and in particular the relationship between his work as a literary teacher and critic and his work as a discursive thinker’. Unfortunately, this encouraging declaration of intent is not borne out by the editorial entitled F.R. Leavis to Modernity in the inaugural number of the Society’s newsletter. [2] It is not simply that the writing is a toxic blend of painfully vacuous enthusiasms, pretentious jargon and psycho-babble, but that the thrust of the piece is positively anti-Leavisian; precisely the opposite, in fact, of the Society’s official aim of preserving Leavis’s legacy.

The editorial proposes to ‘modernize’ Leavis by reconciling his legacy with the prevailing ethos of Western civilization. Since they are irreconcilably opposed, this is an attempt to square the circle. Consequently, the object is not to succeed per impossible, but to produce the impression of success by manipulating words; in this case, ‘creativity’. The strategy of the author is to capture the narrative by introducing a Trojan horse in the form of the current use of this term and its cognates to endorse anything and everything, however trivial, absurd or perverse, that is done in the name of art. To this end, he reproduces two well-known images – Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks and Roy Lichtenstein’s Oh Jeff…I Love You Too,…But – from the last century. These are said to be ‘extraordinarily evocative of the modern age even now’, although ‘doubtless very old fashioned’. No further explanation of the significance of these dated works is offered; but it is clear that, in their different ways, they are informed by a nihilism that is expressed in more or less extreme forms by their contemporaries, and those who have succeeded them such as Emin and Hirst. In Hopper, meaninglessness is validated by the use of a sophisticated graphic technique to passively record the urban vacuity of inter-war America; in Lichtenstein, femininity degraded to a comic-strip two-dimensional figure whose emotional nullity is spelled out in a speech bubble. The images pave the way for ‘creativity’ to be expanded on Orwellian lines to include expressions of nihilism by reassuring the reader that the ‘dance of the human mind (and more than mind) is absolutely to be found as much in post-organic-culture work, such as that of Hopper and Lichtenstein, – or Samuel Beckett, – as it is in Tolstoy and George Eliot’. This exercise in newspeak concludes with the presentation of the internet as ‘an apotheosis of meaning and symbol, not its (sic) annulment, and its world as ‘one which is ubiquitously pervaded by images, genres, and cross-referencings – transformations of the process of historicity in the heat of the “viral” moment’, which ‘are at the heart of poetry’. Readers may be excused for supposing at this point that they have strayed into Private Eye’s pseuds corner.

As ‘creativity’ is Leavis’s touchstone, the conversion of this key term into an infinitely accommodating expression of approval ‘reconciles’ his criticism with the nihilism of the modern age. This raises the question of why he fails to appreciate that the two are compatible, which the editorial addresses by parroting the well-worn accusation that his view of Western civilization is clouded by a nostalgic idealization of ‘the organic society’. The phrase comes from Leavis’s Culture and Environment [3] and is defined in use by his detailed discussion of the relations of production documented in George Sturt’s studies of 19th century English rural life. Here it is glibly misapplied to an aside in the Richmond Lecture which asks whether ‘the average member of a modern society is more fully human, more fully alive than a Bushman, an Indian peasant, or a member of one of those poignantly surviving primitive people, with their marvellous art and skills, and vital intelligence’. [4] This rhetorical question is lifted from its context and presented as the sum of Leavis’s account of traditional culture. Having reduced his view to a simple-minded primitivism via Sturt, the editorial loftily dismisses it, in an incredible display of obtuse condescension, with ‘far be it from me to belittle what we ourselves can derive from the San Bushmen, and other aboriginal peoples, including the Cro-Magnon, or to denigrate their part in the march of civilisation’. By way of showing up Leavis’s limited angle of vision, Levi-Strauss’s Mythologiques is cited as an example of how to be in touch with the primitive world without ceasing to be modern. In another excursion into pseuds corner, this mind-numbing monument of word-spinning is hailed as ‘not only a mighty valedictory epilogue and archive to Native American civilisation…(but) also an utterly modern systematic relating of it to structuralist and post-structuralist quasi-musical code systems, such as are inaugurated in the mature music dramas (Der Ring des Nieblungen onwards) of Richard Wagner’.

Leavis’s treatment of the past is not limited to his discussion of Sturt’s organic community. His many-faceted treatment of the pre-industrial England, which includes such important in-depth studies as the essay on Bunyan in The Common Pursuit, [5] draws on a multiplicity of examples to show how its popular culture is inseparably bound up with the genus of the language and the vitality that links Shakespeare and Dickens. [6] The oversimplification is grotesque in the extreme when his position is construed as a crude idealization of primitive life. Denatured and trivialized, it is set up to be dismissed as a self-evidently untenable aberration and excised from his work, enabling the editorial to claim that his ‘vision of the historicity of consciousness, of the European march of civilisation’, although ‘superficially congruent with his preoccupation with “the organic culture”’ is ‘actually…radically and sceptically modern, post-Enlightenment’, pointing ‘onwards to a potential post-modernism…which would remain valid, even when we deduct the fashionable excesses of a, superficially understood as relativistic, post-modernist influence in the modern university today’.

The organic community – conflated with tribal life – is a distraction to camouflage the locus of the conflict between Leavis and ‘modernity’. It is not simply Sturt’s rural England but the whole weight of his criticism that opposes its nihilism. The rapprochement that the editorial proposes does not wait on the excision of an alleged nostalgia for an idealized past from his work, but is effected from the start, as noted above, by the Orwellian expansion of ‘creative’ that makes it a ragbag into which great art can be tossed along with the debilitated products of cultural decline and miscellaneous detritus from the internet. With its key term hijacked, criticism is transformed into an esoteric game; a quasi-Freudian technique for endlessly multiplying associations, in an opaque terminology that includes such ‘abstrusiosities’, to borrow James Joyce’s handy expression, as ‘linguistic cross-connection and enactive metaphoric fusion’; and the real Leavis is replaced by a littérateur who ‘shows a profound understanding…of…twentieth century (proto-Freudian) elements’ and ‘Freud’s insights’, as well as a ‘recognition of modern nihilism’, and whose literary standpoint is ‘deeply compatible with modern and post-modern, process-based and absurdist, realisations’.

This ‘reconciliation’ of ‘the literary teacher and critic’ with ‘modern nihilism’ – not to mention ‘modern and post-modern, process-based and absurdist, realisations’ – is a particularly egregious attempt to identify Leavis with a position to which he is totally opposed. Nevertheless, it is representative of the Procrustean spirit in which the Society sets about its self-imposed mission of promoting ‘informed appreciation’ of his work. In the case of ‘the thinker’, the type of interest it seeks to foster is illustrated by the Symposium on Leavis as Critic, Teacher and Philosopher in The Journal of Literature and Philosophy, published by John Hopkins University Press, to which a link in the newsletter directs the reader. [7] Only abstracts and extracts are accessible to non-subscribing outsiders; but these can be reasonably taken to provide a flavour of the enterprise, with the rider that they are merely summaries and snippets of the full texts. [8] The introductory note by Danièle Moyal-Sharrock begins with the acknowledgement that ‘Leavis himself would not have approved of the third epithet in our title…(he) was clear that he was neither a theorist nor a philosopher’. Nevertheless, this not deter the symposiasts from endeavouring to pin the epithet on him in one way or another, as can be seen from some representative examples.

Mr Joyce proposes in his abstract ‘to establish the case for reading Leavis as a thinker’ and ‘to shift the emphasis from Leavis as a “practical critic” or as a proponent of “minority culture” (although he was both) and place it on him as a conceptual reformer’.[9] This attempt to play off the ‘thinker’ against the ‘practical critic’ flies in the face of Leavis’s lifelong effort to defend literary criticism as a mode of thought. The phrase, ‘conceptual reformer’, suggests some sort of literary equivalent of the theoretical activity of the scientist who sets out to refine the physical object vocabulary of ordinary language with the tools of mathematics. [10] In practice, shifting the emphasis to the ‘thinker’ means elevating Leavis’s ad hoc remarks on the workings of language in general, and of criticism in particular, to the status of theories and attributing a special significance to them. The question that cries out to be asked at this point is ‘Significance as what?’. Mr Joyce does not say ‘As philosophy’ – at least, not in the abstract. [11] However, in the extract that follows it, he refers to Leavis’s account of language and observes that ‘by a very different route Wittgenstein (his “friend forty years ago”) arrived at an “answer” akin to that which Leavis himself tacitly proposed’. [12] That, with its important qualification, is certainly correct; but with the ‘thinker’ distinguished from the ‘practical critic’ and singled out for emphasis, it places the burden of significance squarely on the association with Wittgenstein. As a result, Leavis’s ‘thought’, in Mr Joyce’s sense, takes on a quasi-philosophical significance in default of any other option. This is an illusion, of course, since significance is context dependent. The different routes that Leavis and Wittgenstein take are the contexts that determine the point of their respective ‘answers’. In Leavis’s, the context is the profitable discussion of literature, and the point of the ‘answer’ is the clarification of the nature and modus operandi of critical discourse; in Wittgenstein’s, philosophical scepticism, and the resolution of doubt. It is in their bearing on the practice of criticism that the force of Leavis’s observations on language resides. Emphasizing the ‘thinker’ at the expense of the ‘practical critic’ stands their actual relationship on its head. The reversal obscures the rationale of the ‘thought’, allowing it to be invested with a ghost of philosophical significance by noting its entirely predictable – since ‘philosophy leaves everything as it is’ [13] – resemblance to the later Wittgenstein’s.

In Mr Harrison’s abstract Leavis is taken to task for regarding the later Wittgenstein as irrelevant to his own intellectual concerns. Mr Harrison avers that ‘Wittgenstein’s philosophy is not only anti-Cartesian and anti-Lockean in ways that not only mirror Leavis’s distrust of Locke and Descartes but also advance his efforts to argue against them.’ This misrepresents the relationships between Leavis, Wittgenstein, Locke and Descartes by mixing truth with falsehood. It is true that Wittgenstein’s later philosophy is ‘anti-Cartesian and anti-Lockean’ in that it is a devastating and final attack on their fundamental doctrine that the immediate objects of consciousness are private mental entities called ‘ideas’, with its corollary that language is a collection of signs that go proxy for them. [14] However, claiming that Wittgenstein’s critique mirrors ‘Leavis’s distrust of Locke and Descartes’ and advances ‘his efforts to argue against them’ is a tangle of suggestiones falsi. Towards the end of his career, Leavis’s hostility towards the growing influence of ‘the Wittgensteinians’ on literary studies betrayed him into the folly of promoting Marjorie Grene’s patently inadequate critique of the Lockean-Cartesian tradition, even though he was completely unequipped to pass judgement on it, in a misguided attempt to wrest the initiative from them. [15] However, ‘distrust’ signifies the inability to rely on something; and to apply it to Leavis’s position vis-à-vis Locke and Descartes is profoundly misleading, since the reliability of their philosophies is simply not an issue for him. What its use in the present context trades on is the misconceived idea that philosophy provides foundations for criticism, which may or may not be sound, making it reasonable to ask if they can be relied on. This is a philosophical misconception, which Leavis, as a practising critic, does not share. From his standpoint, criticism is an autonomous activity, [16] and the philosophies of Locke and Descartes can neither add to nor take away from it. Consequently, he does not argue for or against them, pace the talk about his ‘efforts’ in this regard. Although the critic is entitled to protest against their extra-philosophical pretensions, the problem of squaring them with critical practice is for philosophy to undertake in its own way. In the later Wittgenstein, the problem is dissolved by dispelling the illusion that criticism is in need of philosophical justification. It is not for philosophy to reform fundamental forms of thought and speech in unheard of ways but to accept them as ‘the given’. [17] This guarantees the consistency of Wittgenstein’s later philosophy not only with the linguistic facts that Leavis points to in his account of critical discourse, but also with his refusal to argue against philosophical theories. It would be deeply confused to conclude, per absurdum, that Wittgenstein’s teaching strengthens Leavis’s hand, when its aim is to show that he is not in need of philosophical support. The temptation to draw this conclusion comes from the misplaced urge to confer some kind of philosophical standing on Leavis’s reflections on the mode of thought and language that criticism belongs to, which leads Mr Harrison to speak of them as if they were an attempt to replace the systems of Locke and Descartes with a home-made philosophy that needs to be patched up with the aid of Wittgenstein.

The Symposium follows the editorial in pushing a version of Leavis that is – as Ms Moyal-Sharrock seems to acknowledge – inconsistent with the one that appears in his writings. Leavis’s classic statement of the intellectual orientation of his work, Literary Criticism and Philosophy, expressly prohibits the attribution of any philosophical dimension to the ‘thinker’. Leavis declares that he is ‘not a philosopher’; a denial that is repeated over and again throughout his work. The aim of the essay is to distinguish literary criticism from philosophy and ‘vindicate (it) as a distinct and separate discipline’; in this connection, Leavis cautions against the ‘blunting of edge, blurring of focus, muddled misdirection of attention’ that comes from ‘queering one discipline with the habits of another’. [18] The warning is unheeded by Ms Moyal-Sharrock and her collaborators, who set out to blur the boundary between criticism and philosophy to create a no-man’s land in which Leavis can be situated. This means lifting Leavis’s ‘thought’ out of its critical setting and projecting philosophical ideas upon it that have no intrinsic connection with his aims and interests. The Leavis Society gives an indication of how far this process of ‘re-reading’ – or, more accurately, reading into – Leavis can be carried when it announces a doctoral research project under the forbidding title The Ontology of F.R. Leavis. What Leavis would have made of an enterprise so remote from the spirit of his work can be well imagined! Nor is it limited to the ‘discovery’ of undreamed of philosophical meanings in his work. The editor of the Newsletter artlessly sets out the goal of the Society as the development of a construct that he describes, with endearing candour, as ‘the virtual Leavis…who is…in dialogue…with Wittgenstein, McLuhan, Goffman, – even Derrida’.

Leavis set out his view of literary societies in a note entitled Henry James and the English Association. [19] It begins with an extensive quotation from James’s letter to the English Association declining its offer of the chairmanship, the gist of which is as follows:

…I am a mere stony, ugly monster of Dissociation and Detachment… I have never in my life gone in for these other things…all my instincts have been against them…(meaning by ‘them’ the collective and congregated bodies, the splendid organizations, aforesaid)…I believe only in absolutely independent, individual and lonely virtue, and in the serenely unsociable…practice of the same; the observation of a lifetime having convinced me that no fruit ripens but under that temporarily graceless rigour, and that the associational process for bringing it on is but a bright and hollow artifice, all vain and delusive.

After sardonically deploring the ‘regrettable… unnecessary scruple, or moroseness, or timidity, in James’, who could ‘Surely…see that it was his duty to lend his prestige to the work of an Association whose explicit aims are “to uphold the standards of English writing and speech” and to “spread as widely as possible the knowledge and enjoyment of English Literature”‘, Leavis goes on to contrast the professions of the organization with its actual performance. He concludes by noting the baneful effect of its activities on ‘any attempt to make university literary studies minister to life’, and observes of its publication English:

…the associational spirit prevails completely and complacently – prevails as a defence, certainly not of living literature, or of the kind of life of mind and spirit that makes literature a living influence.

These remarks have an obvious and immediate relevance to the ethos of the Leavis Society, as exemplified by the implementation of its programme – through the Newsletter and the endorsements and recommendations it offers – of promoting ‘informed appreciation’ of the man whose name it bears. It is a supreme irony that Leavis himself should have been posthumously co-opted into the service of ‘the associational spirit’, which he saw so clearly as the enemy and fought against throughout his life.

An ‘informed appreciation’ of Leavis requires the stress to fall squarely on the critic (pace Mr Joyce), who saw that the cultural health of a society depends on the preservation of literature as ‘a living influence’. For Leavis, culture is the capacity to discriminate human fineness in all its manifestations. Its source is a historical tradition that conserves ‘the finest human experience of the past’ in the common language, ‘the changing idiom on which fine living depends, and without which distinction of spirit is thwarted and incoherent’. [20] Literature and criticism are the keepers of the tradition. The creative writer expresses his deepest experience of the world he inhabits through the imaginative use of a vocabulary he inherits from his predecessors, and criticism measures the force and weight of his words against theirs. These complimentary activities maintain cultural continuity by carrying over ‘the standards that order…finer living …the sense that this is worth more than that, this rather than that is the direction to go, that the centre is here rather than there’, [21] from the past to the present. Since standards are nothing apart from, or over and above, their application to concrete particulars, they exist in the map of literature that an age possesses. Leavis’s positive critical achievement is a body of work that defines the salient contours of English literature with an unrivalled precision and accuracy.

At the heart of Leavis’s criticism is a profound awareness of the progressive breakdown of cultural continuity. This process of decline is seen in his work as synchronous with the growth of mass communication. The goal of this great industry of the modern age has been to create the widest possible market for its wares by appealing to the lowest common denominator. Levelling down is effected through the substitution of a currency of stock expressions and clichés for the ‘idiom on which fine living depends’, converting the capacity to discriminate into automatisms and conditioned reflexes. Its success in destroying ‘the sense of where the centre is’ in Leavis’s time is attested by the fragmentation of the literary world into cliques and coteries, co-existing under a façade of mutual tolerance and approbation. The ‘”club”…principle’, [22] as Leavis called it, of putting solidarity before critical conscience instituted ‘a fabric of compromises’ in place of the pursuit of true judgement. Its rejection of standards advanced the vulgarization of taste that mass communication depends on, enabling the ‘confusion of kinds’ [23] that elevated genres such as detective fiction and light comedy, in the form of the works of writers such as Sayers and Wodehouse, to the status of serious literature. The ‘system of relations’ it established and sustained extended from the metropolitan literary scene to academia, and controlled ‘the organs and institutions through which the currency values are established and circulated’. [24] Rejection of its live-and-let-live creed was penalized by marginalization. Leavis’s refusal to subscribe to it resulted in his exclusion and ostracization by the metropolitan elites and the academic powers. However, his stand against them, in his writings and through Scrutiny, the journal he and Q.D. Leavis founded and ran as a guerrilla enterprise, proved impossible to ignore; and he succeeded in compelling public recognition, if typically in the form of vilification and abuse, of his uncompromising defence of cultural values.

Leavis’s criticism is an index of the increasingly desperate plight of culture in his lifetime. The basic outlines of his account of the English tradition were developed when the great writers of the past still had a place in the collective consciousness of the English speaking world, and contemporary genius could be recognized and acclaimed in the poetry of Yeats, Eliot and Pound and the novels of Lawrence and Joyce. In the latter stages of his career, the conditions for the production of such critical work had deteriorated sharply, leading to the heightened emphasis in his writings on the cultural bankruptcy of the modern world. This shift of focus coincides with the mid-century countercultural movement that the mass communication industry sponsored. The sixties ‘pop culture’, an oxymoron that owed its unquestioned acceptance to the writings of Raymond Williams, displaced English letters in the public mind, degrading and coarsening taste and judgement. It fostered and reinforced the cheapest responses by debasing expression to the crudest slogans and catch-words, mixing maudlin sentimentality with infantile diabolism, and pitting the mindless revolutionary tendencies of extreme immaturity against the authority of tradition. The cultural history of the period is a long retreat, in which literature descends from the lightweight in the generation that emerged in the thirties, Auden and ‘the gang’, Waugh and Greene, to nullity in their successors, Larkin and Heaney, Wain, Amis père, Murdoch and Drabble, and criticism to review journalism, relieved only by the heroic last-ditch stand against the Zeitgeist in Leavis’s later writings, from the Richmond Lecture onwards.

The retreat of the literary tradition has become a rout in the post-Leavis era. ‘Pop culture’ has erased it from the national consciousness. Poetry, Matthew Arnold’s ‘crown of literature’, has, to all intents and purposes, ceased to exist. Ezra Pound’s sensationalistic description of it in nineteen twenty as ‘the dead art’ [25] is today a plain statement of accomplished fact. It has been put to the sword by the pop lyric, which now reigns supreme, while its spectre clanks its chains in the form of an officially accredited and certified poet laureate that nobody has heard of, let alone read, or would dream of reading. A similar fate has overtaken the other branches of English letters. Pulp fiction has dispatched the art of the novel, and the shade that passes for it is a rootless and dispossessed species of writing that authenticates itself through the instituting of literary prizes awarded by committees of the like-minded. The sitcom sketch writer has replaced the dramatist, and ‘the theatre’ lingers on either as fringe ephemera or as a culture-trap, [26] where the guileless are offered modern dress parodies called ‘Shakespeare’. These new realities have not failed to leave their mark on academia, which has hastened to join the mainstream by jettisoning the outmoded idea of the humane study of literature with criticism as its centre. Thanks to the early efforts of Professor Ricks, the pop lyric has become a university subject, complete with the paraphernalia of lecture courses, examinations and degrees. [27] With the assistance of an ingenious tool, patented in Paris, [28] the classics of English literature have been converted into so many pegs on which to hang the popular agendas and ‘isms’ of the day that have replaced the class struggle in a flat society: minority rights, feminism, sexuality, gender politics, and the like. Criticism, deprived of its function of maintaining cultural continuity, has looked outside itself for a rationale to justify its existence, and endeavoured to find one by merging with the most obscurantist offshoots of philosophy to create another dark age of scholasticism.

Reviving Leavis’s legacy as a rallying point for opposition to this brave world would be a worthy enterprise that deserves the support of anyone who is concerned with the present state of culture. The advent of the Leavis Society is not the birth of a new resistance movement. On the contrary, the programme set out in its opening statement is an offer to collaborate with the new orthodoxy in stifling any dangerous Leavisite stirrings of life. To that end, it proposes to create an alternative ‘Leavis’; a doppelgänger that is the reverse of what its original stands for. This ‘Leavis’ is very much in tune with modernity: a literary figure who can accommodate its products, even nihilistic ones at a pinch, without the awkward intervention of critical standards; and, more importantly, a thinker, which is to say a theorist, whose work reaches into the misty realms of philosophy, and offers endless possibilities of manipulation for academics to whom ‘real thought’ is not literary but scholastic. If this imposture were allowed to pass unchallenged, it would be the end of Leavis as ‘a living influence’ in a triumph of ‘the associational spirit’. [29]


2 Ibid.

3 F. R. Leavis and D. Thompson, Culture and Environment (Chatto and Windus).

4 F. R. Leavis, Two Cultures? The Significance of C. P. Snow (Chatto and Windus), p 26.

5 F. R. Leavis, The Common Pursuit (Peregrine Books), pp 204-210.

6 Leavis’s account of the past does not, of course, overlook the indispensable role of polite society in the making of the fine civilization that English literature reflects.

7 The Leavis Society does not disclaim the intention of endorsing the Symposium when providing the link.

8 It must be clearly said that the present discussion only concerns itself with what is freely available to the public without the protection of a paywall; that the accessible material is considered strictly as it is offered; and that nothing is implied about the restricted content.

9 Mr Joyce also says that ‘Leavis’s work as a literary critic and teacher is inseparable from his thinking about the nature of language’. Given the proposed shift of emphasis, this would seem to suggest that latter is a precondition of the former instead of being a by-product of it.

10 Vide S. E. Toulmin, The Philosophy of Science (Hutchinsons) pp 17-57. No doubt it will be said that ‘conceptual revision’ in this sense is not like scientific theory; but whatever the phrase means, it is, at best, an infelicity which implies that ordinary terms are to be replaced with artificially constructed ones.

11  N.B. I am not suggesting that this is how the question would be answered by Mr Joyce, whose position is likely to be complex. In a three-way exchange with Mr Robinson and myself, it appeared to be that (i) Leavis is not a philosopher in one sense (the ‘strict’ one that denotes engagement with the epistemological and metaphysical concerns that define the tradition of thought running from the Greeks to Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Hegel, and their contemporaries and successors, which, of course, includes Wittgenstein, whose place in it Mr Joyce, bizarrely, seemed inclined to deny him); (ii) that he is in another sense, (in that he sometimes ‘writes discursively without reference to any particular author or text’ about such matters as language); (iii) that the two senses are not entirely distinct, i.e. really one sense, (with the corollary that he is not and is in the same sense). Leavis and Philosophy (

12 The substantive point was previously made, in almost the same words, in my essay Theory, Philosophy and F. R. Leavis, (Words in Edgeways 18 & 19) : c.f. ‘However, if both men arrive at the same point, it is from opposite directions; and whether we call the end result “philosophy” or not depends on the route by which it is reached.’

13 L. Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Blackwell) p 49e .

14 On Locke’s debt to Descartes, see J. Bennett, Locke, Berkeley, Hume (OUP) p.25.

15 Leavis shows no understanding of the concerns that provide the motive force of the philosophies of Locke and Descartes, and his engagement with Grene amounts to appropriating her work without regard to context. What he takes over contributes nothing to his position; it is, in Wittgenstein’s phrase, an ‘idle wheel’ that does not turn the machinery. This last applies, mutatis mutandis, to any philosophical work that is prayed in aid of it.

16 Literary Criticism and Philosophy pp. 211-213.

17 L. Wittgenstein, ibid, p. 51e & p. 226e.

18 Literary Criticism and Philosophy (supra) pp. 211-213.

19 F. R. Leavis, A Selection from ‘Scrutiny’ (CUP), Vol. 1 pp 177-179.

20 F. R. Leavis, Mass Civilization and Minority Culture, For Continuity (The Minorities Press), p 1520.

21 Ibid.

22 F. R. Leavis, A Selection from ‘Scrutiny’, ibid, p 196.

23 Henry James, The Awkward Age, (Penguin Books), p 18.

24 F. R. Leavis, A Selection from ‘Scrutiny’, ibid.

25 Ezra Pound, Selected Poems (Faber), p 173.

26 This model for the theatre was pioneered by the King and the Duke in Huckleberry Finn.

27 At Goldsmiths College, Middlesex University, and various other institutions.

28 By the late Jacques Derrida.

29 My thanks to Mr David Stotesbury for reading the draft and to Ms Miranda. Stotesbury for IT support.