Fall 1946 • Vol. VIII No. 4 Nonfiction |

Doctor Johnson (Reconsiderations VII)

[Editors' Note: Mr. Leavis' examination of Mr. Krutch's recent book led him to make a fresh statement of Johnson's whole achievement. The sub-title is ours.] Mr. Krutch's book,1 I must confess, surprised me very agreeably. It is not only inoffensive; it is positively good. I had better add at once that I write in England and as an English-man. In this country, to those seriously interested in literature, the cult of Johnson is an exasperation and a challenge. It is a branch of goodmixing, and its essential raison-d'etre is anti-highbrow: it is to further the middlebrow's game of insinuating the values of goodmixing into realms where they have no place—except as a fifth-column, doing their hostile work from within. Johnson, one finds oneself having again and again to insist, was not only the Great Clubman; he was a great writer and a great highbrow—or would have been, if the word, and the conditions that have produced it, had existed; that is, he assumed a serious interest in thi

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