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F. R. Leavis (1895—1978) literary critic

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Calendar of Modern Letters

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A Cambridge periodical which ran for 19 volumes, 1932–53, edited by L. C. Knights, Donald Culver, Denys Thompson, D. W. Harding, and others, but dominated largely by F. R. Leavis; a 20th issue, with a ‘Retrospect’ by Leavis, appeared in 1963. Its contributors include Q. D. Leavis, H. A. Mason, E. Rickword, and D. A. Traversi. It published little creative work of importance, with the exception of the posthumous poems of Rosenberg, but was an important vehicle for the views of the new Cambridge school of criticism, and published many seminal essays, particularly in the pre‐war years, on J. Austen, Shakespeare, Marvell, etc. Its critical standards proved less illuminating when applied to contemporary writing; it ignored most of Orwell, dismissed G. Greene, Dylan Thomas, and most of V. Woolf and in later years attacked the reputations of Spender and Auden, both of whom had been originally greeted as heralds of a Poetic Renascence which, by 1940, Leavis declared not to have taken place. Leavis deplored the lack of support that this indisputably important periodical had received and he blamed the British Council, the BBC, the ‘intellectuals of literary journalism’, etc., for its demise.

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