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Two cultures at forty

All that's left of the great Leavis-Snow debate are echoes of both men's foolishness - but at least the gap between science and the humanities has narrowed

“Between the end of the Chatterley ban and the Beatles first LP” saw more than Philip Larkin remembered: the Cuban missile crisis, Macmillan’s Night of the Long Knives, an epic Lord’s Test and the “Two Cultures” controversy. For a 16 year old of vaguely intellectual interests in 1962, the row between CP Snow and FR Leavis was as exciting as the television debate over the second world war between AJP Taylor and HR Trevor-Roper just before. Maybe schoolboys had more elevated concerns then. Maybe “public intellectuals” were more impressive.

Or maybe not. To revisit that debate is to be reminded…

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