Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad (Pelican)” as Want to Read:
The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad (Pelican)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad (Pelican)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  11 reviews
'The great English novelists are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James and Joseph Conrad...' So begins what is arguably F.R. Leavis' most controversial book, The Great Tradition, an uncompromising critical and polemical survey of English fiction that was first published in 1948. He puts a powerful case for moral seriousness as the necessary criterion for inclusion in any ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published August 31st 1972 by Penguin Books Ltd (first published 1948)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Great Tradition, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Great Tradition

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.46  · 
Rating details
 ·  98 ratings  ·  11 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Becky
Jul 12, 2016 rated it liked it
I read this book because Leavis' name was coming up a lot in research about non/inherent heroism. This book was not about that. Imma be honest, I seriously skimmed the last quarter of the book, because I have other stuff on my research pile that I need to get through that is more focused on what I need. However, I did rather enjoy this book. Leavis oscillates between throwing shade on other critics and authors, seriously studying his chosen authors, and something akin to fanboying. It was nothin ...more
Jeremy
Jun 04, 2018 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Mentioned in Leland Ryken's forward to Karen Swallow Prior's On Reading Well.
Richard Epstein
Dec 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
The Leavises, esp. F.R., were always fun to read and to rail at, and they were capable of wonderful analyses; but they were idiots nonetheless. These are the people who thought Hard Times was Dickens's one novel in the great tradition and Hardy scarcely worth considering. Still, he recognized that Shelley was a ninny, and for that I honor him.
Gui Freitas
Nov 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
A work which very much stands as a landmark in the New Criticism/Practical Criticism school of thought, F.R. Leavis offers in a clear style his controversial opinions.

He claims that there are four major novelists in the English language: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and Jane Austen (who is too special and varied, and for Leavis merits her own book). This is not to say, as many caricatures of Leavis would have you think, that he doesn't think that there are any other authors worth r
...more
Paul Edward
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed reading this. Thanks to the Guardian list for recommending it and loved the print on demand copy from Faber and Faber direct.
This book will influence my reading going forward.
Nicholas Whyte
Oct 21, 2007 rated it liked it
http://nwhyte.livejournal.com/1557214...

Back in my Cambridge undergraduate days, we Natural Scientists had a joke about the guy studying English who did not want to look out of the window in the morning, because then he would have had nothing to do in the afternoon. But as I have got more interested in sf criticism, I have felt that maybe I did miss something by not sampling what was on offer in terms of literature studies in the department which was still resting on its laurels from the glory d
...more
Adriano Bulla
My opinion on this seminal text is totally split. Of course, I don't agree with large chunks of it; but that goes without saying as we approach literature from two completely different perspectives.

What I cannot make my mind up about The Great Tradition is its impact. On the one hand, this is arguably the most important text in the 'creation' of English Literature as a subject in its own right (let us remember that it only established itself in the 1930s), on the other hand, it does so by layin
...more
kerrycat
Mar 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, favorites
It's hard to admit that I don't agree with everything this great critic has to say - but he draws attention to lesser known titles that deserve it (and explains why, very convincingly), and it's hard to argue with what I don't agree with, because he makes so much sense. The chapters on James and Conrad are, of course, to me the most fascinating, and his insights on The Secret Agent, Nostromo, and fin de siécle James (certain of my favorites that go neglected for the most part). A brilliant mind.
Lawrence
"The great English novelists are Jane Austen, George Eliot, Henry James, and Joseph Conrad... Since Jane Austen, for special reasons, needs to be studied at considerable length, I confine myself in this book to the last three."

Except, then he never wrote his book about Austen! F.R. Leavis, I needed you to write about Austen. You let me down.

Also, 1940s literary criticism always seems to come from a slightly different planet than the more modern stuff... which I suppose it does, in a way.
Johnw1
Aug 24, 2012 rated it liked it
He speaks with a certainty that I do not share about the (very few) books that he considers to be 'great' and the criterion for determining this. I agree that critics should be sifting through literary history to select those books and authors most worth treasuring, though. If 'elitism' simply means deciding that some books are better than others then I too am an elitist. He has some very insightful points to make about Conrad in particular...
Robert Corbett
Jun 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Necessary to read if you want to understand the history of literary criticism in English from Johnson to Michel Foucault. Still, Leavis' canonizing impulses make one suspect his local insights--yet he does have local insights, and a point of view worthy of consideration.
Julie
rated it really liked it
May 14, 2013
Angela
rated it really liked it
Oct 08, 2012
Alison Bowman
rated it it was ok
Apr 27, 2018
Simon Ruddell
rated it really liked it
Nov 27, 2009
Susan
rated it really liked it
Aug 31, 2011
Kenneth
rated it really liked it
Aug 05, 2007
Alan Mapstone
rated it it was ok
Feb 14, 2016
Karen Webb
rated it did not like it
Dec 31, 2018
Bob
rated it it was amazing
Nov 27, 2017
Esther
rated it liked it
Jan 14, 2018
Simon
rated it really liked it
Oct 05, 2012
Jan-Jaap van Peperstraten
rated it really liked it
Jul 28, 2011
Lisa
rated it really liked it
Oct 03, 2011
Ted
rated it really liked it
Dec 25, 2008
Tom
rated it really liked it
Jun 24, 2011
Bridget
rated it did not like it
Aug 25, 2014
Roman Valenta
rated it it was amazing
Jun 14, 2016
Kin Cosner
rated it really liked it
May 14, 2019
Allisay
rated it it was ok
Sep 14, 2017
« previous 1 3 4 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Axel's Castle: A Study of the Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930
  • The Art of the Novel
  • The Rise of the Novel, Updated Edition
  • A Short History of English Literature
  • Culture and Society 1780-1950
  • The Singing Detective
  • The Well Wrought Urn: Studies in the Structure of Poetry
  • Theory of Prose
  • The Oxford Companion to English Literature
  • The Historical Novel
  • The Origin of German Tragic Drama
  • Inventing Ireland
  • Theory of Literature
  • The Elizabethan World Picture
  • The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition
  • Leonard Maltin's Classic Movie Guide
  • The Film Encyclopedia: The Most Comprehensive Encyclopedia of World Cinema in a Single Volume
  • Allegories of Reading: Figural Language in Rousseau, Nietzsche, Rilke, and Proust
See similar books…
21 followers
Frank Raymond "F. R." Leavis, CH (14 July 1895 – 14 April 1978) was an influential British literary critic of the early-to-mid-twentieth century. He taught for much of his career at Downing College, Cambridge but often latterly at the University of York.