Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English

Memoirs of a Leavisite: The Decline and Fall of Cambridge English

by David Ellis
     
 

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In the second half of the last century, the teaching of English literature was very much influenced and, in some places, entirely dominated by the ideas of F. R. Leavis. What was it like to be taught by this iconic figure? How and why did one become a Leavisite? In this unique book, part memoir, part study of Leavis, David Ellis takes himself as representative of

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Overview

In the second half of the last century, the teaching of English literature was very much influenced and, in some places, entirely dominated by the ideas of F. R. Leavis. What was it like to be taught by this iconic figure? How and why did one become a Leavisite? In this unique book, part memoir, part study of Leavis, David Ellis takes himself as representative of that pool of lower middle class grammar school pupils from which Leavisites were largely recruited, and explores the beliefs of both the Leavises, their lasting impact on him and why ultimately they were doomed to failure. At the heart of this book are questions about what English should and can be that are by no means finally settled.

Editorial Reviews

Laura Marcus
“A beautifully written, engaging and informative work. . . . It gives vivid and witty accounts of both F. R. and Q. D. Leavis’s fraught and often fractious relationships with colleagues and contemporaries, but the tone is never malicious or one-sided. Above all, it is a book about the role that literature might play in a life.”
From the Publisher
"A wise, patient and delightful book."—The Spectator

"A memoir of beautifully evoked ghosts."—Times Higher Education

"I also enjoyed David Ellis's Memoirs of a Leavisite, an autobiography that, while providing first-hand evidence of Leavis's influence on university English departments the world over, distinguishes itself from many a work by Leavisite hands by its note of self-deprecation."—D.J. Taylor, Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2013

"I loved two works of non-fiction that could have been written just for me - Alwyn W Turner's A Classless Society and David Ellis's Memoirs of a Leavisite."—Leo Robson, The New Statesman, Books of the Year 2013

"David Ellis's final affirmation that the approach that Leavis advocated still provides the best insurance that he has come across against "the tendency of institutions to churn on regardless, quite cut off from any initial social aim or utility" resonates in the mind after one has closed this brief, tactful and deceptively quiet book."—ITimes Literary Supplement

"A beautifully written, engaging and informative work ... It gives vivid and witty accounts of both F.R. and Q.D. Leavis's fraught and often fractious relationships with colleagues and contemporaries, but the tone is never malicious or one-sided. Above all, it is a book about the role that literature might play in a life."—Laura Marcus, Goldsmiths' Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford

"... marvellously engaging memoir."—The Weekly Standard

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781846318894
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
Publication date:
08/15/2013
Pages:
160
Sales rank:
949,595
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.80(d)

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