Tradition and Individual Talent,” written by T.S. Eliot(1888-1965), is one of the most influential essays of all time. It has placed an essential concept of understanding the core meaning of Literature as a whole. A famous critic F. R Leavis ( 1895-1978) made significant criticism of this essay.
According to F. R. Leavis, the idea of Tradition that Eliot formulates in his essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent” is crucial as it plays an essential part in the thinking of everyone today who is seriously interested in literature. The idea represents a new emphasis on the social nature of artistic achievement. Eliot stresses the word “impersonal.” “Society” is implied in the word “Social” in the idea of Tradition. Leavis emphasizes the word “Social,” but it does not mean the Marxist concept of society.
More Notes: Literature and Society
Leavis clarifies Eliot’s idea. The individual writer should be aware that the work he is producing is of the literature to which he belongs. It should be a constituent part of literature, not merely an external addition to it. It should have the same relation to literature as a part has to the whole.
Literature should be thought of as something more than a collection of separate works of discrete nature. It is like an organism in which all the different parts contribute to the organization. An individual writer of talent has significance to the whole of literature. By the word “mind,” Eliot means the intellect, moral and mental condition implicit in literature.