Unexaggerated rumour

You kindly posted a comment from me on your website under the heading Swimming with the Tide.  I had been undertaking, your readers will recall, a little detective work – investigative journalism one might call it – into the Leavis Society. I was therefore struck by your recent announcement that the Society’s website had been taken down. I have checked this and can confirm that this is the case. I can’t unfortunately offer the explanation you seek but I cannot forbear to comment that this event appears all of a piece with the evidence which you and your contributors have provided concerning the decline of the Society.  Its failure to fulfil the promise of its early aim, to promote intelligent appreciation of Leavis’s work, but instead to adopt ideological and theoretical turns which are inimical to such appreciation and would have been anathema to Leavis himself, albeit dressed up in windy rhetoric, and to offer platforms at members’ expense to those overtly hostile to his work, reminds one of his own comment after the Lectureship Trust debacle, that he is not honoured but dishonoured and insulted.

I speak of “members’ expense” but I understand that there are now as few as five subscribers (and this number may well have fallen since I undertook enquiries). No doubt the Society, such as it is, will attempt some sort of rearguard action or damage limitation exercise. If so, your readers will no doubt recognise this for what it is, an example of the editorial bluff and bluster so embarrassingly exposed in your columns. Contrariwise, there is talk of a final meeting to afford the Society “a decent burial”.  Whatever happens, we can take courage in your own work.  It may be, in the spirit of this work, that some worthwhile creation will arise phoenix-like from the ashes of the late (but apparently not much lamented) Leavis Society.  Who can be sure? (as Leavis asks), the unforeseen may yet reward us.

We should perhaps offer the tribute of a sigh to those who set up the Society with such admirable intentions. Alas that the usual hopeful interval between birth and death was hardly given to it.