Analysis of F.r Leavis' "The Great Tradition"

Analysis of F.r Leavis' "The Great Tradition"
Within F.R Leavis? The Great Tradition, Leavis presents clear and consistent criticism. Although his points are definitely biased, and I don?t agree with all the statements he makes, it is evident in this work that Leavis is indeed great at articulating and embodying the authors that he both envies and adores so much.

Within The Great Tradition, Leavis is purposefully evaluative of certain writers. It is clear that he holds individuality, and the appreciation of life, high on his list of criteria for great writers. This is evident when Leavis writes ?the major novelists who count in the same way as the major poets, in the sense that they not only change the possibilities of the art for practitioners and readers, but that they are significant in terms of the human awareness they promote: awareness of the possibilities of life.? (Leavis, 602) He greatly praises Lawrence and Austen, both for their individuality as well as their traditional writing styles. Leavis looks highly upon Austen because he thinks she is "no mere display of "civilization"" (604). This generous praise is due to Leavis? concern (during the time this selection was written) that mass culture was destroying the traditional culture of England and Great Britain, which perhaps sparked him to maintain the notion that there were only five great traditional English novelists.
Although I do agree with Leavis that Jane Austen, George Elliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad and D.H. Lawrence are truly great writers, it is clear that they are not the only great writers that exist in the world, unlike Leavis tells us we ought to believe. Leavis writes "It passes as fact (in spite of the printed evidence) that I pronounced Milton negligible, dismiss ?the Romantics,? and hold that, since Donne, there is no poet we need bother about except Hopkins and Eliot." (601). This statement is possibly made out of pure arrogance and sheer abandonment

of any sort of common sense. In my opinion, it is important to study and read many authors from many different backgrounds and perspectives. Reading enables us to become more

educated on different cultures and social backgrounds as well as different time periods. To provide an example of this importance, it is obvious that there is a great difference in writing style and historical background in Shakespeare?s "Sonnet 29 compared to ?In Flanders Fields? by John McCrae. Aren?t they both important in different ways? How could someone say that ?In Flanders?s Fields? is not an important poem to read when it touched so many lives and still today serves as a reminder of those who died in the First World War? Leavis I?m sure would not argue with this statement as he served for a time in the army during The Great War. However, I do agree with Levis?s statement when he writes ?far from all of the names in the literary histories really belong to the realm of significant creative achievement? (602) but Leavis himself says that ?she [Jane Austen] read all there was to read, and took all that was useful to her? (603). Therefore although some authors works that we read should not be praised for being a significant creative achievement, it stands that for the most part they are still historically and educationally important to be read.

Overall, after reading the selection from The Great Tradition by F.R. Leavis, at first I was startled, and also a bit angry at Leavis? conclusions. However after re-reading the selection I started to think that maybe Leavis was onto something. Clearly he presents a very strong position, which is indeed controversial. However, what greater way to make a statement that really clings to a reader?s mind than to make a controversial statement? Leavis, however strong minded, engaged me as a reader and interested me in his conclusions so much that after I finished

reading him, I was still thinking about the conclusions he had drawn. Then it hit me, isn?t this one of the criteria of great writing?

Analysis of F.r Leavis' "The Great Tradition" 7.6 of 10 on the basis of 3693 Review.