The British have often denied the very existence of a tradition of English literary theory. George Watson redeems that denial in his latest book, the first study of 20th Century English theory.
The book begins with Yeats, Pound and Eliot, who made England their home. In subsequent chapters, based on personal recollection as well as published sources, it assesses the contribution of I.A. Richards, William Empson, F.R. Leavis, C.S. Lewis, Isaiah Berlin and Wittgenstein, as well as Marxists like E.P. Thompson and Raymond Williams.
English literary theory is a tradition that has suffered in reputation, paradoxically, by the sheer fertility of its invention. In this seminal work the author celebrates that fertility from the First World War to the death of Iris Murdoch in 1999, showing that England pioneered the academic study of theories of literature years in advance of France or the USA.