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A Convergence of the Creative and the Critical

A Reading of the Novels of Henry Green through the Literary Criticism of T.S. Eliot and F.R. Leavis

Patrick MacDermott

Literary modernism and its aftermath saw few more enigmatic practitioners than Henry Green. Green was a remarkably innovative and experimental novelist, while also being a keenly perceptive observer of the turbulent times in which he wrote. With his writing spanning the high-point of modernism in the 1920s, the turn towards greater social and political engagement in the 1930s and the search for new beginnings in the post-war period, Green’s texts reflect some of the most important literary developments of the twentieth century.
This book takes a fresh approach to Green, one that places his work firmly in its contemporary critical context. By exploring the insights of two of the most formative critics of the period, T.S. Eliot and F.R. Leavis, the book explores how Green was able to bring about creative tension between the competing claims of formal innovation and social engagement. Through new explanations and evaluations of the texts, the author demonstrates the depth and originality of Green’s achievement in tangible and specific form. The book also explores the particularly productive relationship between creative and critical endeavours that flourished in this landmark literary period.
Contents: Green’s nine novels and autobiography published between 1926 and 1952 – Living - based upon Green’s time working in a Birmingham foundry – Party Going captures the highlife of London – Green’s elusive personality projected in Blindness and Pack My Bag – Green at the height of his powers with four novels in six years, among them the magical Loving and the mysterious Concluding – Green’s two sharp and brittle novels of the early 1950s.