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Revaluation: Tradition & Development in English Poetry (Leavis) Paperback – Import, 1 Feb 1998

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Amazon.com Review

F.R. Leavis was the most influential literary critic of the English-speaking world in the mid-20th century, and Revaluation, first published in 1936, is the book that made his name. In the years since, especially with the rise of postmodernism, his style and assumptions have become so unfashionable that to encounter them again is positively exhilarating. Think of Leavis as literary criticism's Roy Orbison--so square, he's hip.

This book surveys a vast swath of English poetry, from Donne to the Victorian Romantics. It famously upgrades Donne and Marvell while showing skepticism towards Milton, and offers a complex treatment of the "holy trinity" of Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats. Above all, though, it's the best exemplar of Leavis's modus operandi: take particular poems by particular poets, add a rich appreciation of their historical and social circumstances, and try to make convincing judgments about their achievements without deferring to some overarching theory.

Undoubtedly, the Leavis style has dated; if it struck some contemporaries as pedantic and heavy-handed, it seems even more so now. Yet the language is subtle, capable of convoluted yet precise sentences that make unexpected distinctions sharply. Look, for example, at his brilliant analysis of the difference between good and plodding excerpts from Paradise Lost. --Richard Farr


Leavis was not as other critics. He was a guru, a leader, a master of those who know. -- John Gross, New York Review of Books

Leavis’s aim, the aim for which he maintained the centrality of literary criticism, was the creation of an intelligent public. -- Denis Donoghue

Leavis’s...strength as a critic lies in his loving, delicate, discriminating probing of a writer’s fusion of language and thought. -- New York Times Book Review

These books are a welcome tonic in an age when the art of close reading has fallen into grave disrepair. -- Washington Times

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Product details

  • Paperback: 279 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R Dee; 1 edition (1 February 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566631718
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566631716
  • Product Dimensions: 13.1 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #9,45,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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