Letters: Fiction: Leavis's 'dumb judgement'

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The Independent Online
From Mr Michael Lipton

Sir: Nigel Williams, reviewing Ian MacKillop's F.R. Leavis: A Life in Criticism (Weekend, 15 July), writes of Leavis's

often extraordinarily dumb judgements about fiction, such as the absurd idea that [D.H. Lawrence's] Lady Chatterley is better than Women in Love.

In Leavis's 1976 Preface to Thoughts, Words and Creativity: Art and Thought in Lawrence, he writes of

Women in Love, which I am not alone in judging the greatest and most important of his novels. (pp. 9-10)

In his introductory chapter to Nor Shall My Sword (1973), he writes of his

refusal to lend myself to the campaign that made Lady Chatterley's Lover a fabulous best-seller, or to express anything but dismay and apprehension at the consequences. (p. 31)

On many other occasions, Leavis expressed this valuation of the two novels.

What can justify Mr Williams in writing with such confidence, and so contrary to the evidence, of Leavis's "extraordinarily dumb judgements"?

Yours sincerely,

Michael Lipton


16 July