• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Leavis and literature

Extracts from this document...


What are the implications of Leavis's argument for a definition of literature? Case study based on the extract of F.R. Leavis 's The Great Tradition. As this essay is going to be a short one, I shall - as briefly as I can - try to demonstrate F.R. Leavis's complex classification of literary works, which implicates his definition of literature. There are various aspects worth mentioning in order to answer the essay question, however I decided to focus on the factors that I consider the most important: The Great Tradition in light of style and form, presentation of human issues, author's individual approach to life and the ideas of 'Englishness'. From early 19th century critics and academics have attempted to define the notion of literature and standardize its criteria. Frank Raymond Leavis belonged to the group of most influential thinkers who desired to analyse literary works in the light of the growing study of literary criticism. Firstly, it is significant to notice that The Great Tradition, published in 1948, can be treated as a sort of guide with the purpose of showing why some novels deserve to be in literary canon and some do not. Leavis's argument: which narratives are worth of recognition, might be considered as his implications of the definition of literature. ...read more.


Even though they learnt from their predecessors and each other, Austin, Eliot, James and Conrad posse strong individual approach to life. As a consequence, their dissimilarity can be treated as another feature of authors who are part of the great tradition. As said by Leavis, Henry James in comparison with others, posses a natural sense of humour and is able to communicate by ' the finest shades of inflection and implication'. 5 Joseph Conrad, in his works, brought up various aspects of human personality. His unique style lies in sophisticated form, techniques and background that are used for character's scrutiny. In many Conrad's novels, as suggested by Leavis, one can find not only 'consciousness of dependence', which constitutes one of his major themes but also various juxtapositions of characters facing hostile natural elemental forces. Conrad's interests in life and human morality, made him possible to be one of the greatest authors. What is more, Leavis highlights Conrad's skilful usage of English language. Conrad, who was of Polish origin, decided to write in English not Polish or French, which he knew fluently. Thus, he is true ' master of English language (...), and who was concern with art (...) is the servant of a profoundly serious interest in life.'6 Conrad wrote in an innovative way and most importantly desired to show human destiny, loneliness, wickedness as well as weaknesses. ...read more.


In addition to the previous paragraph, we can see that F. R. Leavis has put together a highly selective, distinctive method of putting literature into categories. Works of authors such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad, Leavis would classify as classical examples of traditional literature. Novels by the above authors contain specific characteristics of what Leavis describes and defines as a literature. These characteristics are: authors' interest in life, distinctive form as well as style, a particular depiction of moral issues and the idea of Englishness. Chris Baldwick conveys the reasons behind Leavis' categorisation, the major point being that literature has a certain moral function within society. Furthermore, to remember 'past experience with the use of the portrayal of life, to preserve culture, and to maintain the language within.' 11 Overall The Great Tradition celebrates English language and certainly encourages the reader to take pride in English Literature, but on the other hand one could say that it unfairly excludes the wide range of world literature that have plenty to offer. One thing is for certain, whether or not one agrees with Leavis, his influence in defining what "literature" is continues to be held with great esteem. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Miscellaneous section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Miscellaneous essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Letter to daniel

    4 star(s)

    he says things like " the sun is already slanting through the tower blocks", "flat silver waters", " somewhere out there the last stars flickering towards the other side of the world" and "glorious dawn sky".

  2. Dulce est Decorum est and For the Fallen

    'Time of our darkness' refers to the war, and how young men, in the hardest periods of their life, left their homes to save their loved ones, and even though dead, they will continue to take care of their families from heaven.

  1. Spiritual Aspects Of Lyrical Ballads

    He remarks, with bitter sarcasm, "this is the process of our love and wisdom", which seems to personify Coleridge's own view, that with all the resources that nature and man has to offer, we choose imprisonment and captivity as a source of reformation.

  2. The Trouble with the Birlings and Gerald Croft is they Confuse Respectability with Morality ...

    Instead of just showing sympathy she seems to understand how the girl must have felt, and shows a genuine regret for her behaviour. "It's the only time I've ever done anything like that, and I'll never, never do it again to anybody."

  1. Sins of the Past

    The only female customer screamed at the ghastly sight. Damien's face fell pale as two police officers who were passing by burst in through the door and sprinted toward Watson. Watson held his hands up in surrender as they rugby tackled him.

  2. How does James Joyce Portray Women in

    when desire strikes. As she mused the pitiful vision of her mother's life laid its spell on the very quick of her being - that life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness. She trembled as she heard again her mother's voice saying constantly with foolish insistence: 'Derevaun Seraun!

  1. The Pesthouse comparative

    Furthermore, the father displays hope even after suffering through sickness and starvation and he encourages his son to have faith. After falling sick, the boy has a bad dream which causes him to be pessimistic when his father tells him to "'Listen to me,' he said, 'when your dreams are

  2. Adrian Mole Chapter Notes

    Mr Lucas bought Adrian a penknife but he rejected it. April 25th Mr Lucas drove all of them to the countryside, and they had a walk. Adrian had a dream about stabbing Mr Lucas with the penknife. April 26th Adrian has returned from Sheffield.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work