Leavis, Tolstoy, Lawrence, and “Ultimate Questions”


F. R. Leavis’s essay on Anna Karenina is distinctive in his work because it is really against his usual critical assumptions to engage with a work in translation. In fact it turns out to be one of his best essays, one in which he is prepared to be critical of his admired D. H. Lawrence and in which he deals with his own deepest moral concerns and with the nature of tragedy. Toward the end I draw a comparison between a narrowing moralism in the later Leavis and the later Tolstoy.