The humanist criticism of the nineteenth century persists in the work of F. R. Leavis. As critic and teacher for over forty years and as editor of Scrutiny, Leavis has been the modern embodiment of this critical tradition. His work provides an excellent measure of its present strengths and weaknesses. Against increasing skepticism about the legitimacy of high culture, Leavis has passionately argued that at stake in the defense of what he calls the great tradition is not simply English as a discipline but the creative spirit itself. (p. 69)
Leavis's work is most interesting and most problematic when he conceives of literature and society as threatened by the same corruptive forces. Against...
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