In any period it is upon a very small minority that the discerning appreciation of art and literature depends … They are still a minority, though a larger one, who are capable of endorsing such first-hand judgement by genuine personal response.
Literature is the supreme means by which you renew your sensuous and emotional life and learn a new awareness.
Poetry can communicate the actual quality of experience with a subtlety and precision unapproachable by any other means.
The few really great-the major novelists … are significant in terms of the human awareness they promote; awareness of the possibilities of life.
A good deal of Paradise Lost strikes one as being almost as mechanical as bricklaying.
It is well to start by distinguishing the few really great – the major novelists who count in the same way as the major poets, in the sense that they not only change the possibilities of the art for practitioners and readers, but that they are significant in terms of the human awareness they promote; awareness of the possibilities of life.
The only way to escape misrepresentation is never to commit oneself to any critical judgement that makes an impact – that is, never to say anything. I still, however think that the best way to promote profitable discussion is to be as clear as possible with oneself about what one sees and judges, to try and establish the essential discriminations in the given field of interest, and to state them as clearly as one can (for disagreement, if necessary).
The “great tradition” does not brook even the possibility of libidinal gratification between the pages as an end in itself, and FR Leavis’s “eat up your broccoli” approach to fiction emphasises this junkfood/wholefood dichotomy.