Abstract

The moral concern of F. R. Leavis involves a subtle scrutiny of the representation of the self in its various (often unconscious) forms. The Cambridge critic is particularly harsh when the (implied) authorial self is not vigilant against itself. This sensitiveness to the fallibility of the self is both the result and strength of a Christian and self-introspective culture that Leavis shares with his contemporaries, believers and non-believers alike. This paper argues that though a prudent and conscientious self-restraint is a basic Confucian criterion for a gentleman, the self of Chinese poets, however, is entitled to greater licence and wilder self-rep-resentation, and as a consequence literary scholars in China are much more tolerant of egotism in different disguises. Perhaps idioms typical of Leavis’s ethical sensibility might be tentatively used in analysing and evaluating certain features of Chinese literature.

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