F. R. Leavis René Wellek - Essay

René Wellek

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)


I am, I fear, too much of a theorist not to feel strongly the ambiguity, shiftiness, and vagueness of Leavis's ultimate value criterion. Life. In its implications and rejections it brings out the limitations of Leavis's concept of literature and the narrow range of his sympathies. Life for Leavis is first of all simply realist art—not merely in a sense of copying or transcribing a social situation, a dramatic, objective rendering of life, of course, but as we find it in Shakespeare and the English novel of the nineteenth century. In practice, Leavis has no sympathy for stylized, conventionalized art, the art defined in Ortega's Dehumanization of the Arts. This serious ideal...

(The entire section is 861 words.)