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Two Cultures?
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Book description

In this first annotated edition of F. R. Leavis' famous critique of C. P. Snow's influential argument about 'the two cultures', Stefan Collini reappraises both its literary tactics and its purpose as cultural criticism. The edition will enable new generations of readers to understand what was at stake in the dispute and to appreciate the enduring relevance of Leavis's attack on the goal of economic growth. In his comprehensive introduction Collini situates Leavis's critique within the wider context of debates about 'modernity' and 'prosperity', not just the 'two cultures' of literature and science. Collini emphasizes the difficulties faced by the cultural critic in challenging widely-held views and offers an illuminating analysis of Leavis's style. The edition provides full notes to references and allusions in Leavis's texts.


‘Fifty years after Lionel Trilling established the terms of subsequent commentary on F. R. Leavis's Richmond Lecture, Stefan Collini decisively and triumphantly reframes the discussion. By explaining a tone that has struck so many observers as inexplicable, Collini places Leavis's seemingly outrageous lecture within a tradition of cultural criticism that continues to this day.'

Guy Ortolano - author of The Two Cultures Controversy: Science, Literature, and Cultural Politics in Postwar Britain

‘In this companion volume to his successful and indispensable edition of Snow's Two Cultures, Stefan Collini presents the notoriously vicious public response to Snow mounted half a century ago by the Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis. Leavis' polemic has often been misunderstood or ignored. Collini's introduction cogently restores the debate to its proper setting, and shows how many of its central issues, such as the effects of celebrity status and market values on intellectual life, are still urgent.'

Simon Schaffer - University of Cambridge

'As Collini points out (in his introduction), Leavis has important and enduring things to say.'

Source: Prospect

'Republished with a lengthy and attentive introduction by Stefan Collini … [Leavis's] performance survives rather well.'

Source: London Review of Books

'Stefan Collini's introduction and annotation of this new edition of the lecture not only help to contextualise and rehabilitate it but also bring to the surface ideas that have relevance today as academics and educationalists try to address the increasing division between between science and the humanities.'

Yvonne Lysandou Source: Morning Star

'… this is the picture that has come down through the decades about Snow's lecture: that the sciences and the humanities have, regrettably but probably inevitably, come to take very different path. But this was not really Snow's point … Snow had no intention of distributing blame for the divorce even-handedly. Both the lecture itself and the controversy it spawned are complex phenomena, and in his editions of Snow's lecture and of the most famous response to it, by the literary critic F. R. Leavis, Stefan Collini has carefully and skillfully disentangled the many stands. The tale he tell is instructive in many respects - and perhaps more important now than it was when Leavis gave his response, fifty years ago.'

Source: Books and Culture

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