Submitted for discussion: Donald Davie, on Yvor Winters and F. R. Leavis:
That I cannot concur in either Leavis’s or Winters’s way of dividing the sheep from the goats, is beside the point: what I esteem in both of them is their common insistence that sheep there are, and goats there are; that in the arts, as between the genuine and the fake, or between the achieved and the unachieved, there cannot be any halfway house. The Calvinist doctrines of election and reprobation may be false and brutal in every other realm of human endeavour; in the arts they rule. And the catholicism of Lewis and Tolkien becomes, when extended into the arts, merely a lax eclecticism; worse, it becomes – because of its tenderness towards ‘the ordinary’ – indistinguishable, in its impact on the practicing artist, from that secular social democracy which from every other point of view is its enemy.
–Donald Davie, These the Companions: Recollections (Cambridge UP, 1982) 170.