What Price Collaboration? The Case of F. R. Leavis
In his Preface to The Common Pursuit (1952), F. R. Leavis described the practice of literary criticism as a constructive collaboration: ‘“The common pursuit of true judgement”: that is how the critic should see his business, and what it should be for him. His perceptions and judgements are his, or they are nothing; but, whether or not he has consciously addressed himself to co-operative labour, they are inevitably collaborative.’1 Such an ideal of critical collaboration is problematic, as the Leavises’ own careers demonstrated. But their difficulties have too often been seen in terms of personality, while the true interest of the case is the other way round: the Leavises’ strong-minded conception of their own integrity throws light on the tensions of collaboratio as such.
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