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F. R. Leavis and
Author: Lu Jiande
Date: 2003-5-27

The poet represents the mind in the act of defending us against itself.

Wallace Stevens

In this essay I try to argue, by offering an account of the use of "intelligence" as an evaluative term in F. R. Leavis"" writings, that in Leavis"" criticism we should take note of doublings, redirections and revisions. Leavis never believed that judgment and evaluation are mechanical procedures, a matter of bringing up an array of fixed rules to the literary text. In practice, however, he had an idiosyncratic liking for a set of measures. The validity of such a frequent employment of typically Leavisian criteria without a framework of theory was challenged by Ren Wellek in his famous letter to Leavis concerning Revaluation [Scrutiny, 5(1936-37), 375-83 ]. [1] In his prompt rejoinder Leavis argued:"I do not, again, argue in general terms. . . but by choice, arrangement and analysis of concrete examples I give those phrases . . . a precision of meaning they couldn""t have got in any other way"[Scrutiny, 6(1937-38). 63-4]. These standards, looking so clumsy and bland in isolation, then, must be read in close relation to the contexts. The theoretical implications in this exchange of views apart,[2] Leavis"" statement is applicable to uses of such criteria as "actuality", "enactment", "sharp, concrete realisation" and "sensuous particularity". The connotative associations of the term "intelligence" are much harder to delineate, even with the aid of contexts and demonstrations. It is not like those phrases describing demonstrable technical features of supposedly good writings, though these features might conduce to it.

Indeed, the term "intelligence" runs, with embarrassing frequency, through all of Leavis"" major works. The problem is ,just as John Casey points out, that Leavis"" paradigmatic terms are so thickly interrelated that they don""t exist in isolation and a priori. To illustrate the verbal entanglement in Leavis"" nomenclature, Casey puts together more than twenty positive descriptive and evaluative terms (including "intelligence") associated with "life" in Revaluation, and their derogatory counterparts. He compares Leavis"" critical procedure with R. M. Hare""s contention that a complete justification of a moral decision is almost impossible because it must give a complete description of a way of life in which the decision is part. While Hare concludes that value judgments, in the final analysis, must be deducible from an Original Imperative, Leavis"" evaluation is achieved, ideally, not by deducing from an Original Imperative or general principles, but by welding description and placing. [3] Stimulated by this observation, I would further ask, has "intelligence "meant the same thing to Leavis throughtout all the years? Wasn""t he, through interpreting others""s "intellegence", revising time and again his own version of "intelligence"? The analysis of the intricate network of motivations behind this evaluative term would offer an incomparable opening into an enquiry into Leavis"" criticism in general. I shall try, roughly chronologically, to reconstruct a very flexible outline definition of "intelligence" from divergent contexts.

The conception of"intelligence"on many occasions is conjoined to "sensibility". In a long review of William Empson""s Seven Types of Ambiguity, significantly entitled "Intelligence and Sensibility", Leavis for the first time intimated what he meant by the pair of words. "Here is a man using his intelligence on poetry as seriously as if it were mathematics or one of the sciences. "[4] "Intelligence "here simply means a systematic and objective exercise of mind, close to what he would call many years later l""intelligence. However, the analysis and judgment of poetry went well beyond the rigour of mind: "What about his sensibility?" Leavis declared that Empson had "a very fine sensibility "and he was in every way "an uncommonly adequate reader of poetry". There is a binary in Leavis"" use of the terms: "intelligence" as a sustained application of cerebral faculty which, in Leavis"" words, would "improve the apparatus for future critics", is balanced by "sensibility", similar to a fine operative taste cultivated through an inwardness with particulars and in Empson""s case, with nuances and shades of meaning in poetry. This binary itself had been noted by many before. Leavis seemed to be more conscious of the interdependence between and unsortability of the two terms. "As we read through Mr Empson""s book", he admitted, "we become less and less confident about separating sensibility from intelligence. "[5] What Leavis intimated by "intelligence" here was confirmed by his description of certain features of Metaphysical poetry in the same year. In the tradition founded by Donne, it was assumed that "a poet should be a man of distinguished intelligence, and that he should bring into his poetry the varied interest of his life. "What is that "distinguished intelligence", or that "varied interest"? Placed in sharp contrast to the nineteenth century preoccupation with the creation of a fanciful dream world, it is "wit, play of intellect,stress of cerebral muscle. "[6]

Leavis"" debut in Scrutiny, "The Literary Mind", exemplifies this ongoing concern with "intelligence". He picked up the relationship between "intelligence "and "sensibility "again in commenting upon Max Eastman""s Literary Mind. Instead of a consecutive analysis of Eastman""s "localizable confusions and fallacies", he gave a treatise on intelligence and sensibility. A promising definition seems to emerge, but it soon dissolves itself in a prose that abounds with redefinings and qualifiers. In Eastman""s book "there is a pervasive debility, a lack of tension, outline and edge in his thinking. . . . he has none of that sensitiveness of intelligence without which all apparent vigour of thought is illusory. " This lack of discipline in thinking is also a problem of sensibility: "his undertaking is such that without a fine sensibility. . . and without an ability to discern and fix differences he is without his essential data. . . No easy distinction between intelligence and sensibility comes to hand here" [Scrutiny, 1(193233), 22]. All the forces "intelligence" carries are now more complicated than mere exertion of "celebral muscle". Intelligence uninformed with a responsiveness to concrete details and a dilettante""s amorphous and subjective "taste" are both impermissible. The seemingly opposite parts are then indissoluble, informing and reinforcing each other, neither possessing an absolute meaning. But when Leavis opened fire at the amateur""s fallacy of "appreciation", the "stress of cerebral muscle" seems to be the anchorage of his "intelligence". For these belletrists, Leavis regretted, there was still a field, "requiring no cerebral tension, where we need not feel inferior. " Intelligence then is characterised by a heigtened sense of consciousness. It is not only the application of rigorous thinking to the text itself, but also an arduous effort of our conscious mind to note and register what is going on in our response to literary texts [Scrutiny, 1(1932-33), 234].

Partly because of his awareness of the inseparability of "intelligence" and "sensibility", and also a looseness in writing, Leavis at times used the two terms interchangeably and even indiscriminately. In the second half of the essay, for instance, in wielding and brandishing his sabres of "intelligence" and "sensibility "against those whom he couldn""t agree with, Leavis reduced them to cheap verbal counters and dodges. John Middleton Murry was one of the victims, being "almost incredibly defective in sensibility", and "the defect of sensibility shows as a defect of intelligence" [ Scrutiny, 1(1932-33),27].

Why, after all, did the talismanic term "intelligence" come to the fore? why was it even advocated by editors of Scrutiny as what this trouble laden world was in need of?[7] It first of all could be seen against the background of a controversy over the issue of "intelligence" in The Criterion in 1926 and 1927. The idea of "intelligence" forms an integral part in Eliot""s attempt to crystallize the distinction between the Classic and the Romantic. In 1926 Maritain""s Neo-Thomist treatment of "intelligence", Reflexion sur L""intelligence, was singled out as among the books making up a tendency towards "a higher and clearer conception of Reason. "The Criterion""s restoration of reason -- "a more severe and serene control of the emotions by Reason"[8]-- came hand in hand with its advancement of "intelligence"; both were in line with Eliot""s anti-Romanticism at that time. Only the virility of Classicism and the clear logical rigour of Thomism, E. R. Curtius asserted, could lead Europe out of its present chaos. He regarded The Criterion""s "restoration of the intelligence"[9] as a key link in the united front of Classicism in Europe.

The Criterion""s revival of "intelligence", however, was challenged single-handedly by John Middleton Murry in the magazine. The controversy, too turgid to lend itself to ready summary, was triggered off by a leading article in TLS about Herbert Read""s Reason and Romanticism . The anonymous author accused Read of a bias toward intellectualism and argued that to a modern mind, "intelligence" didn""t connote "intuition", the faculty or act of simple apprehension of truth. [10] Eliot, in his review of the same book, would rather stand on the side of "intelligence". "Intelligence" in its proper Aristotelian and Thomist context didn""t debar intuition; it actually covered all varieties of the act of knowing: "intelligence is the genus, intuition and discourse the species. "[11] There was no need then to demand another irrational faculty "intuition", "a more potent and thuriferous ju-ju. "[12] Those who were concerned with the dissolution of value would turn to reason and intelligence for guidance, to "an athleticism, a training, of the soul as severe and ascetic as the training of the body of a runner. "[13] The importance of the faculty of intuition was rigorously defended by Murry. He held that the greatness of St. Thomas"" system was anchored in its indivisible anima, with its two complementary potencies of intellectus and fides. A modern Thomist, without fides as a counterpoise to intellectus, was "bound to make intellectus co-extensive with anima",[14]and establish a cult of barren rationality. Murry then unfolded his argument by dividing knowledge into two kinds, qualitative knowledge and quantitative knowledge. Since the Renaissance the two kinds of knowledge have been represented by art and science. The age of Classicism is the time of cognition, standing on the side of science, whereas the age of Romanticism is a revolt against the deadening effect of abstract conceptual thinking by revivifying through arts "the conceptual hierarchy by immediate and concrete experience. " The dichotomy of Classicism and Romanticism is the direct reflection of the dichotomy of intelligence and intuition. "Intuition is the faculty by which the full, concrete reality is . . . prehended, that is to say, encountered and . . . absorbed without necessary cognition; intelligence is the faculty of cognition, that operates through concept and abstraction. "After this dualistic generalization he then calls for a synthesis of the two knowledges and a Shakespearean combination of Classicism and Romanticism. It is not difficult ot find that Murry""s immediate background is figured by D. H. Lawrence and Bergson, further back there are those Romantic apologists for the poetic against the analytic and prosaic. The proposed synthesis is, in reality, only a thinlyveiled attempt to subsume "intelligence" under the name of a Romantic "Reason". [15]

To seek to subsume intuition under intelligence, from which it has been separated with such careful pains by M. Bergson, is just as retrogressive as it would be to try to subsume "intelligence" under "intuition". Moreover, the English word "intelligence" is incapable of the content assigned to it: it would founder under the load. If a word is required for the synthesis desired we have not to look far. "Reason" is satisfactory; "intelligence" is not.

In Bergson""s metaphysics, actually, "intuition" and "intelligence" stand for two profoundly different ways of knowing the world. The analytic approach, or intelligence, can only move around things, as it reduces things to qualities shared by other objects; whereas objects in the eternal flux are unique, only by the superior faculty of intuition, by entering into it, can one obtain its true knowledge. [16] The term "Reason" here bristles with Romantic connotations, indicating nothing similar to the kind of "Reason" Eliot and Curtius were trying to reinstate. Murry""s indebtedness to Romanticism via Kant and Coleridge becomes more explicit when he accused the advocates of "intelligence" of denying "Reason in the name of Intelligence: to substitute Verstand for Vernunft. "[17]

The controversy lumbered on for several months and then quieted down politely with neither side persuaded and the smoke still hanging thick over the battlefield. Nevertheless it gives us a better idea of the historical implications of "intelligence": to foreground the term itself could be regarded as an act of parti pris, and this should be further considered as connected with a degrading of Romanticism and an interest in the "line of the wit".

The influence on Eliot of Irving Babbitt""s critique of Romanticism speaks for itself in Eliot""s early writings. Babbitt""s rejection of impressionism, which reduces criticism ultimately to a matter of personal taste, is part of his campaign against Romanticism. A rationalist rather than a positivist, Babbitt saw both the laudable side of Bergson""s reaction against positivists like Taine and its fundamental affinity with romanitc irrationalism. The best way to avoid positivist intellectualism is "not by sinking below it, after the fashion of the Bergsonians and pragmatists, but by rising above it". Intellect therefore is not to be reduced to a purely utilitarian role; and to dissipate "the dangerous sophistries "gathering around the term "intuition "is perceived by Babbitt as his task: "only by means of the intellect can we lay the proper foundations for a philosophy of intuition. "[18] In Eliot""s defence of "intelligence" he carried on his mentor""s spirit. Not that intuitions and impressions themselves are illegitimate; they should be established into impersonal laws. To elevate them above the level of personal subjectivity, Eliot argued that one must expound, criticise and analyse by using, or developing, an Aristotelian mind, "the scientific mind". Aristotle "was primarily a man of not only remarkable but universal intelligence; and universal intelligence means that he could apply his intelligence to anything". In this pursuit of "the disinterested exercise of intelligence" Eliot tried to see works of art as they are, free from being used as an outlet for suppressed egoism. [19]

There is a kindred spirit in I. A. Richards""s dismissal of flock of bogus entities like "Beauty", ineffable, ultimate and unanalysable. His attempt to sketch a psychological and neurological (and then absolutely objective) basis for judgment of and response to art goes far beyond what Eliot meant by "universal intelligence " and the Aristotelian "scientific mind". The process of reading poetry, especially difficult poetry that demands heightened attention, like the climbing of the Alps, offers the pleasure of step-by-step conquests. In this intellectual mountaineering, resistance, friction and oddity all contribute to the attainment of that cerebral thrill. The effect of Richards"" scientific spirit was acclaimed by his students, who didn""t literally adopt his Alpine detachedness. In Cambridge Richards helped to use the sunshine of reason (not Murry""s "Reason") to dissipate "the woolly generalities and the vague mysticism of the accepted school of criticism (Gosse, Symons, Saintsbury and the like) "and gave "the sense that a dawn was breaking in which it would be bliss to be alive ". [20]Leavis perhaps shared this Wordsworthian sense of bliss. His stress on the necessity of a seriously analytic attitude (informed with a qualified sensitiveness to the particular), whether in critical or creative writings, is largely derivative from Eliot""s and Richards""s application of intelligence, universal and unspecialized, to literature and criticism. The essay on "The Literary Mind" is very much a riposte to the reception this new approach -- "willed intellectual effort", as it was called by its detractors [ Scrutiny, 1 (19323), 23],--had met with. Eliot""s influence, in Leavis"" own words, is his "disinterested and effective application of intelligence to literature "[Scrutiny, 15 (1947-48), 58]; the spirit of Classic objectivity (as Eliot puts it) informs this new approach: "to see literature all round, to detach literature from ourselves to reach a state of pure contemplation. "[21] Indeed, Eliot""s idea of a "scientific mind", with its attendant the principle of impersonality, implies a respect for art works as something having a certain autonomy, a worth independent of the individual spectator; in creative writing a respect for the outer world, material or moral, independent of the writer. A selfless attentiveness to the work and the world before us is a crucial element in Eliot""s "restoration of intelligence" and his anti-Romanticism. In Leavis"" dismissal of those who go to poetry for a sort of emotional and aesthetic thrill there is the same emphasis on this act of selfless attention-giving. By appealing to reason, rational discussion and "intelligence", Leavis, following Eliot and Richards, was making efforts towards restoring in criticism certain degree of objectivity and make it a cause worthy of common pursuit. Criticism as Q. D. Leavis wrote in her essay on Leslie Stephen explicitly on behalf of Scrutiny, is not "a mystic rapture but a process of the intelligence". She quoted one of Stephen""s critical credos as corresponding with Scrutiny""s position: "After all, though criticism cannot boast of being a science, it ought to aim at something like a scientific basis, or at least to proceed in a scientific spirit. . . When we are seeking to justify our emotions, we must endeavour to get for the time into the position of an independent spectator, applying with rigid impartiality such methods as are best calculated to free us from the influence of personal bias"[Scrutiny, 7(1938-39), 407, 413]. Stephen""s "position of an independent spectator "enlightened with "a scientific spirit" is surely comparable to Eliot""s notion of "universal intelligence" which, being the starting point of the common pursuit of true judgment, has its premise that personal prejudices and cranks must be disciplined. This "scientific spirit" is also coterminous with Arnold""s ideal of "the disinterested objectivity" of the Hellenic tradition and a Socratic "disinterested play of consciousness" upon one""s " stock notions and habits". [22]This disposition of mind, this seeking of truth independent of the seeker, points to a much older tradition stemming from Pythagoras: the ethical driving force behind the scientific movement. In theory, Arnold, Stephen and Eliot are all seeking from an Olympian height (and often with their own assumptions unexamined) disinterestedness, sweetness and light, or judgments that are cleansed of violence and extremity. Leavis, in his outspoken belief in candour and personal involvement in the act of reading, doesn""t seem to be a qualified candidate for this description. But his conception of "intelligence" does include an admiration of Arnold""s Hellenic "authority of reason" [Scrutiny, 8 (1939-40), 95] and an effort to transcend immobilized personal preferences. We need to recognize this important aspect of Leavis"" work which takes the form of incisive and rigorous Aristotelian analyses of poetry, a style cultivated in the hope that through analytic, rational discourse, agreements could be reached, a community of readers formed and a shared sense of value developed. The dialogic norm of criticism suggested by Leavis ("This is so, isn""t it?" "Yes, but. . . ")enbodies exactly this effort, this ideal of reasonableness.

So far the account of "intelligence" is perhaps too tidy and neat. If Eliot""s "intelligence" is inextricable from the Aristotelian via media and irreducible to a set of formulae, its promotion aims at the impartial and the impersonal, and is not inimical to the general, the abstract. This is perhaps the prime constituent of his realism in a Medieval and Scholastic sense. Leavis"" "intelligence" at times encompasses a legion of connotations other than the attainment of objectivity and often has a nominalist element which welds together the analytic verbal approach, a suspicion of anything that is discursive, and an emphasis on the richness of immediate, sensuous experience. Lawrence""s genius as a "thinker", for example, is registered in his actualization of the concrete, particular experience [Scrutiny, 1 (1932-33),28]. Leavis"" version of "intelligence", therefore, because of his horror of abstract conceptual thinking, would accommodate itself to rather than exclude Murry""s Bergsonian "intuition", whereby immediate experience, the undistinguished "full, concrete reality is. . . prehended". The grave problem lying behind Leavis"" spirited emulation of Eliot""s "intelligence" is that Eliot""s "intelligence" arises exactly from his criticism of the solipsism of immediate experience, the "utter night" of the primordial all-inclusive whole. [23]

It is not clear if Leavis was conscious of this, but he started, more or less incited by Wellek""s challenge, re-examining, and improvising new versions of, "intelligence". Leavis"" interpretation of Aronlod""s intelligence is part of his revision of the conception in the direction towards a Laurentian brand of intelligence. His own preoccupations irrepressibly assert themselves in these "strong"readings in a Bloomian sense. Touches of corrective tints and hues are added here and there so that a very different tone of "intelligence "would emerge. The nature of Arnold""s intelligence is "its sensitive concern for the concrete, its perception of complexities, and its delicate responsiveness to actualities". This intelligence is then "indifferent to theoretic rigour or completeness and does not mind incurring the charge of incapacity for strict thinking" [Scrutiny, 8(1939-40), 95]. When he praised Arnold""s "concern for the concrete" which was also Arnold""s intelligence, we don""t know what " the concrete" actually means here. Does it mean closeness to the technical aspect of the text? or Lawrence""s concrete and uninterpreted world of the experience of membranes and plasms? Most likely it indicates a reliance on experience, a disregard for theoretical consistency. If Arnold has acquired these virtues by the strength of his classical education rather than an initiation into practical criticism, Leavis then must duly moderate his claim for the English School, which would peremptorily monopolize "intelligence". Leavis in these cases gave himself too free a hand in using terms like "the concrete" and "intelligence", with his eyes fixed on his own convenience. This "intelligence "of a supposedly Arnoldian variety diverged further from Eliot""s "universal intelligence", or Richards"" scientific spirit when it was believed that we, in evaluating poetry, should like Arnold bring to "bear the completest and profoundest sense of relative value that, aided by the work judged, we can focus from our total experience of life (which includes literature), and our judgment has intimate bearings on the most serious choices we have to make thereafter in our living"[Scrutiny, 7 (1938-39), 325]. This activity of "intelligence", being "an exercise of the sense of value, is controlled by an implicit concern for a total value-judgment". [24] This might be true, as many would argue. However, with its meaning so dramatically inflated, "intelligence" as an evaluative term won""t be of much practical use. The Leavisian critic, in realising and re-living the poetic experience, is like the Coleridgean poet who brings the whole soul of man into activity, not detached, neutral and trying to be objective and discipline one""s extremities and cranks, but enthusiastic, interested and potently personal. In this coming together there is no separation of the thinker from the thought, the knower from the known, the experiencer from the experience.

My crude formulation of Leavis"" conceptual shifts doesn""t and cannot offer a ready framework in which all Leavis"" uses of the term can be fitted. In his essay on Shelley (1935), a ten-year-later article "Thought and Emotional Quality" (1945) and its much later revised version in The Living Principle (1975), for instance, Leavis employed the term "intelligence" without much change of meaning. Good poets are able to unite their feeling and thinking; they can keep themselves at a distance from their immediate experience and hence they can explore fully and make genuine their experience. Leavis held up Metaphysical poetry as a contrasting exemplum:"The activity of the thinking mind, the energy of intelligence, involved in the Metaphysical habit means that, when the poet has urgent personal experience to deal with it is attended to and contemplated--which in turn means some kind of separation, or, distinction, between experiencer and experience. " Leavis then scoffed at Johnson""s disapproval of the seventeenth century wits: "Their attempts were always analytic. "[25] This paradigmatic experience/experiencer rift is a parallel to, if not replica of, Eliot""s famous dictum that "the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates". Eliot""s own poetry perhaps does not give credit to the impersonality principle. This discrepancy between practice and precept had been, Leavis noted in reviewing "East Coker", gleefully exploited by Eliot""s "malicious critics". The techniques Eliot employed in his intimate inner exploration and selfinterrogation were "the method and evidence of a profound impersonality; an impersonality rare and difficult of attainment, sought, as it is, and sustained, in the realm of the most immediately and urgently personal. "[26] This was actually implied in Eliot""s acknowledgement that only those who have personality can attain impersonality. But in 1958 Leavis turned his back upon Eliot""s theory for "continual extinction of personality" and the above-cited sentence, quoted several times by Leavis before 1950 in support of his own arguments for impersonality, was considered as "a wholly arbitrary dictum"."Without the distinguished individual . . . there is no art that matters". [27] In the rejection of Eliot""s idea of impersonality Leavis was unawares disowning the rift between epxerience and experiencer, and the related idea of "intelligence" as well.

The nature of this radical change in reference to impersonality should be considered in conjunction with Leavis"" fervent championing of Lawrence""s intelligence. The bottle--here the term "intelligence"--remains the same, but the wine tasted as if from a very different vintage. This is more the development of one element in the network that constitutes the idea of intelligence than a total conversion. As early as 1930 Leavis wrote admiringly of Lawrence""s "splendid human vitality, the creative faith, and the passionate sense of responsibility". [28] The Laurentian intelligence was implied in Leavis"" emphasis on the faculty whereby one keeps in close touch with the concrete, the immediate experience. At that time Leavis"" appreciation of Lawrence""s campaign for the "living intuitive faculty" was accompanied by his commitment to the cause of intelligence and human normality, and subsequently an awareness that Lawrence""s cult of the primitive, and his disgust at mind-consciousness at the expense of the rationalized and civilized, fostered in him "a certain inhumanity". His reservations about that legendary pristine innocence, however, were soon drowned out by his intensifying admiration for Lawrence""s " intuitions of ""unknown modes of being""". [29] Whenever Lawrence was concerned, the intelligence of the Aristotelian mind, achieved by education and intellectual training, looked badly in need of revising and even undoing. [30] When Leavis insisted as early as in 1937 that the gift that made Lawrence "the finest literary critic of our time" should be called "intelligence", we are told that it is "an extraordinary penetrating, persistent and vital kind of thinking"[Scrutiny, 6(1936-37), 352, 357]. We are left in dark as to what is in common between this version of intelligence and Arnold""s Attic disinterestedness, Stephen""s rigid impartiality and Eliot""s universal intelligence, to which Leavis was undoubtedly attracted. Inevitably the inner tension started generating dangerous undercurrents and eddies, and led to a reassessment of "intelligence" as well as Romanticism in general.

The touch-stone, the key word, in D. H. Lawrence: Novelist is just "intelligence". Leavis uneasily felt the need to profess his changed allegiance. "It is Lawrence""s greatness that to appreciate him is to revise one""s criteria of intelligence and one""s notion of it". This redefinition of "intelligence "compelled Leavis to review his own early undeclared but unmistakably palpable anti-Romantic leanings. The new version of "intelligence "begins to take an indefinite shape after he has stacked up praises of Lawrence""s "supreme" or "vital" "intelligence". It reaches toward something approximate to "the living intuitive faculty" combined with Lawrence""s positively "romantic" capacity for "awed wonedr in the face of life". Leavis deliberately chooses to lay stress on Lawrence""s "intelligence" rather than on insight or intuition, terms Eliot would suggest to describe the special faculty of the wild untutored phoenix. Here is the definition of the faculty: "The power of recognizing justly the relation of idea and will to spontaneous life, of using the conscious mind for the attainment of ""spontaneous-creative fulness of being"", is intelligence. "[31] This formulation verges closely on the synthesis advocated by Murry in a time when his Romantic genealogy was under severe critical review. The difference between Murry""s and Leavis"" receptions of Eliot""s "intelligence" in early years gives a vivid contour of Leavis"" intellectual or anti-intellectual development. Those who believe in intuition, Murry warned, must be intuitive enough to "see that the manipulation and ultimate ordonnance of immediate experience depends upon the help of the intelligence. "[32] And here, "intelligence" has very much the same instrumental (rather than constitutive) function as what Leavis means by "the conscious mind": both of them are to capture, as unobtrusively as possible, the uninhibited flowing of the spontaneous unconsciousness. Reason and mental knowledge, if granted at all their lease of existence, should become servants to "fulness of being", to the unknown, which, though by definition unknowable, is contradictingly known for sure as a good in itself, a good unmediated by history and institutions that are the accumulated human wisdom.

Leavis"" preoccupatio with "intelligence "didn""t slacken with the passage of time. True intelligence, like or identical with "the livingness of the deepest vital instinct", should be "uncompromised" and "the agent of the whole being, which, of its nature, cannot be brought wholly into the ""sunlight"" or ""dragged to light""". [33]"Intelligence" was transformed into an article of absolute faith, Aquinas"" fides and Hare""s Original Imperative, defying any rational analysis. His last book Thought, Words and Creativity has the motif of D. H Lawrence""s "intelligence" in crescendo. " L""intelligence is not the same as intelligence", Leavis throws out this squib. Unable to support the assertion by dictionary definitions, he relies on a circular and totalitarian statement: "What ""intelligent"" means here is what Lawrence compels the perspective reader to recognise". The word "compel "here, carrying such a conclusive illocutionary force, performs a labour-saving deed. Eliot""s alleged denial of the vitality of human creativity renders his thought "pretentiously null"; and his negation of human creativity is rather "a defeat of intelligence" than a collapse of faith. It is Lawrence who possesses "vital intelligence the intelligence needed for valid thought about Life" and brings home to us that "it is life-as-intelligence to know itself faced . . .with the unknown, and the unknowable". [34]The language of criticism has reached, in sentences like this, both the intensity and impenetrable density of a religiose vitalism. One might ask, following Murry, does the term "intelligence" founder under such load? It is no longer used to illuminate, it is lost in the surrounding thickening verbal network which it begets to escape into. Conspicuously in this uncontrollable verbal network are terms without hawsers to reality: "the not yet", "the beyond", and the "Ahnung", the last being a quiet borrowing from the terminology of German Romanticism. [35] The Hellenic disinterestedness is interpreted as "an intense interest in . . .here and now". [36] In this impersonal and indifferent technologico-Benthamite world, only by this potent personal commitment can humanity be redeemed.

If Leavis is like Lawrence delving deep beneath the intellectual and the analytic in order to reach the irreducibly rich, full, unique and immediate experiences, he inclines to neglect the general and universal without which that "fulness of being" has to remain non-relational and impossible to be, to used his favoured word, placed. J.P. Stern""s criticism of Nietzsche""s neglect of "the sphere of association" can be justly applied here. By "the sphere of association" Stern means "all those human endeavours -- in society, art and religion, in morality, even in the natural sciences -- in which single discrete insights and experiences and encounters: single situations -- are stabilized and made reliable by means of rules and laws of institutions, leading to new associations or combinations, which in turn bring about new situations. "[37]This sphere of association, in a society, takes the form of normative constraints and cultural bonds. These constraints and bonds provide both a shared vision of and understanding of goods and the basic certainty whereby the framework of society is sustained or changed.

The adversary of dualism is, very often, fettered by a more rigid form of dualism -- the stark opposition between the tool and the essence, between intellectual understanding and living understanding, between individual consciousness and social consciousness. [38]The mind to Lawrence and Murry is at best the servant of the inscrutable, unfathomable soul, instrumental in the unfolding of the Holy Ghost. While the pre-mental and intuitive close touch with the fountain-head of life is primary, cognition or intelligence is secondary, a means to an end. Both Lawrence and Murry represent the New Romanticism of which Murry""s pitching a Romantic intuitive "Reason" against Eliot""s Classic "intelligence "is an important constituent. But Murry""s "intuition "was withering when he took defencelessly Eliot""s blithe jibes: "it is as mysterious and miraculous to watch Mr Murry conducting discursive reasoning as to watch him apprehending his intuitions. "[39] The fact that Lawrence, Murry and Leavis, like Wallace Stevens"" poet, should use this conscious mind, this "intelligence" in a normal dictionary sense, to execute itself in defence of the inexpressible and unknown "living intuitive faculty" is illustrative enough of the kind of paradox of which Romantic advocates of "Reason", in their articulate denunciation of intelligence, are the most renowned practitioners. To make intelligible his assertion that we should rely on instinct, intuition or feeling (the phallus in Lawrence""s case) as moral guide, the Romantic would reluctantly appeal to reason and rational thinking rather than Lawrence""s "physical vision". His rationale furnishes by its success the very proof of his failure.

LuJiande(½), Ph. D. , Associate Professor, Institute of Foreign Literature, CASS. He specializes in English Romanticism and twentieth century Engligh Criticism.


[1]. Later on, reflecting on the extreme scepticism and nihilism of the destructive wave of theories. Wellek felt "guilty of having helped to propagate the theory of literature", but he insisted on the importance of an articulate rationale for literary studies. See "Destroying Literary Studies", The New Criterion, vol. 2,no. 4(Dec. 1983), p. 8.

[2]. For defences of Leavis"" particularist position see Renford Bambrough, "Literature and Philosophy," in Wisdom: Twelve Essays, edited by Renford Bambrough (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1974), pp. 274-92; and Peter Byrne, "Leavis, Literary Criticism and Philosophy", The British Journal of Aesthetics, 19(1979), pp. 263-73.

[3]. The Language of Criticism (London: Methuen, 1966), pp. 153-78.

[4]. D. W. Harding reviewed Leavis"" New Bearings in very similar terms. The distinction of the book was the treatment of the making of poetry "as being at least as responsible an occupation as, say, scientific research"; and it was against its "remoteness . . . from pursuits demanding fine intelligence, such as research and speculation in science "that Leavis criticised the tradition of nineteenth century poetry [Scrutiny, 1(1932-33), 87, 89].

[5]. Cambridge Review, 52(1931),pp. 186-87.

[6]. "The Influence of Donne on Modern Poetry", The Bookman, 79(1931), pp.345-47.

[7]. In the "Manifesto" of the magazine, "intelligence" is opposed to both naive optimism and Spenglerian fatalism as an active function promising a way out[Scrutiny, 1(1932-33),2].

[8]. T. S. Eliot, "The Idea of a Literary Review", The Criterion, 4(1926),p. 5.

[9]. "Restoration of the Reason", The Criterion, 6(1927), p. 390.

[10]. "Reason and Criticism", TLS. July 8,1926, pp. 1-2. Read""s frequent intellectual reversals are to be borne in mind here.

[11]. This is Murry""s description of Eliot""s position. "Towards a Synthesis", The Criterion, 5(1927), p. 295. Eliot in his reply happily accepted this description. "Middleton Murry""s Synthesis", The Criterion, 6(1927), p. 341.

[12]. The Criterion, 4(1926). pp. 757, 753.

[13]. Ibid. , p. 5. Cited commendatorily by Leavis in New Bearings in English Poetry, 1932, 2ndedn, 1950, reset (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972), p.87.

[14]. "Towards a Synthesis," The Criterion, 5(1927),p. 298.

[15]. The Criterion, 5(1927),pp. 308, 307.

[16]. Henri Bergson, An Introduction to Metaphysics, translated by T. E. Hulme (London: Macmillan, 1913). For detailed distinction between "intelligence"and "intuition" see Creative Evolution, translated by Arthur Mitchell (London: Macmillan, 1911), Chapter II. Murry the Romantic and T. E. Hulme the Classicist were both espousing Bergson for their opposing causes. Murry is intellectually more consistent, but consistency might not be the virtue he would be happy to possess.

[17]. "Concerning Intelligence", The Criterion, 6(1927), p. 527.

[18]. The Masters of Modern French Criticism (London: Constable, 1913), p. x.

[19]. The Sacred Wood, 1920, 7th edn(London: Faber and Faber, 1950), pp. 13,10, 12, 33. This is perhaps why Eliot is treated as a prophet of the objective paradigm in criticism. See David Bleich, Subjective Criticism (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1978), p. 33.

[20]. Basil Willey, "I. A. Richards and Coleridge", in I. A. Richards: Essays in His Honour, edited by Reuben Brower et al. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 232-33.

[21]. Quoted by Leavis in "T. S. Eliot: A Reply to the Condescending", Cambridge Review, 50(1929), p. 256.

[22]. Complete Prose Works, edited by R. H. Super, 11 vols (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960-1977), 1(1960), p. 1; 5(1965), pp. 228-9.

[23]. Knowledge and Experience in the Philosophy of F. H. Bradley (London: Faber and Faber, 1964), p. 31.

[24]. Education and the University, 1943, 2d edn(London: Chatto and Windus,1948), p. 71. Much later, in his Clark Lectures (1967), Leavis further asserted that when one is in the grip of the poem, one""s whole being, including one""s basic attitudes and habits of thought and valuation, is involved. See English Literature in Our Time and the University (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1969). p. 129.

[25]. See Scrutiny, 13(1945-46), p. 61; The Living Principle (London: Chatto and Windus, 1975),p. 82.

[26]. The Cambridge Review, 62(1941),p. 268.

[27]. Anna Karenina and Other Essays(London: Chatto and Windus, 1967), pp. 180, 179.

[28]. For Continuity (Cambridge: Minority Press, 1933), p. 140.

[29]. Ibid. , pp. 137, 114, 123.

[30]. Lawrence told Willie Hopkin: "When will you discover that what you call the intelligence is a something that cheats you and jiggles you all the time . . . you must have physical vision. " Quoted by Frank Kermode in D. H. Lawrence (Glasgow: Fontana/Collins, 1973), p. 25.

[31]. D. H. Lawrence: Novelist (London: Chatto and Windus, 1995), pp. 24,241, 310.

[32]. Murry, "Towards a Synthesis", The Criterion, 5(1927), p. 307.

[33]. Nor Shall My Sword (London: Chatto and Windus, 1972), p. 60; English Literature in Our Time, p. 154.

[34]. Thought, Words and Creativity (London: Chatto and Windus, 1976), pp.15, 21, 18.

[35]. The term is used several times by A. W. Schlegel in his famous distinction between classic poetry and modern (Romantic) poetry. In the latter, for instance, the soul embodies its Ahnung, or a nameless vision of infinity, in the phenomena of the senses, which are consecrated from their mysterious connexion with higher feelings. Lectures on Dramatic Art and Literature, translated by John Black, 2 vols (London: J. Templeman and J. R. Smith, 1840),I,pp. 15-7.

[36]. English Literature in Our Time, p. 77.

[37]. J. P. Stern, Nietzsche (Glasgow: Fontana/Collins, 1978),pp. 116-7.

[38]. See Lawrence, Phoenix, edited by Edward D. McDonald(London: Heinemann, 1936), pp. 761-4.

[39]. The Criterion. 6(1927). p. 343. 


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