WRITING a life of FR Leavis, I have used almost daily Kinch's FR Leavis and QD Leavis: an annotated bibliography, writes Ian Mackillop. It is just that: annotated, trenchant commentary running through more than 500 pages.
Much of the responsibility for it fell on Maurice Kinch, which he bore at personal financial cost and with no academic facilities. In 1992 he produced (by two-finger typing) a private edition for friends of letters written by FRL and QDL He wrote observant essays about them, the last, 'Saying Everything At Once?: the prose style of FR Leavis', appearing in the Dutch journal English Studies in 1992. The phrasing and rhythm of Leavis's prose has been little studied. In a careful analysis Kinch permits himself one closing generalisation - if Leavis's late polemical works fail to reorientate thought, it is because of 'our obsessive preoccupation with the 'standard of living' and our increasing neglect of ordinary human values'.
Those values were unsparingly shown to me in the care Maurice Kinch took over my requests, the tact he showed over my prose, and in his delightful readiness to recommend things worth reading. His last tip, two weeks ago, was George Moore's The Untilled Field.
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