Two decades later, his addendum "Retrospect 1950" reveals Leavis's disappointment that his forecast failed, and what happened instead. He tells how the poetry world arrived to its present dynamic, bolstered by the death of criticism and coterie-ization of poetry into the university, a transition epitomized by one renowned figure:
“Auden[‘s]... career is worth pondering because it is the representative career of the nineteen-thirties.... He entered the literary world with a reputation made at the university....[T]he Auden who conquered the literary world with such ease was the undergraduate intellectual. The undergraduate coterie has always had its part in the formation of talent; but the coterie in the ancient seats of learning has tended, in other days, to bring its members into touch with adult standards. That which formed Auden seems to have been able to remain utterly unaware of them.... His admirers spoke of him having superseded T.S. Eliot.
“It was ridiculous; but not, for that, the less disastrous. Greater gifts than Auden’s might have lost, in such a success, their chance of coming to anything. His misfortune, in fact, brings vividly before us the conditions that, in our time, work against the maturation and development of young talent. They may be seen, simply, as the failure of the function of criticism, though tat, of course, is only one aspect of a very large and complex fact. This may be seen, again, as the disintegration of the educated reading public. It is only in such a public that critical standards have their effective existence. Where there _is_ one, the critic, even when advancing judgements that challenge the most generally accepted valuations, may hope, if he expresses his judgements cogently and aims them with sufficient address at the critical conscience, to get the weight of corroborative response with him, and so to tell. But where no such public exists to be appealed to, the critic’s unpopular judgements’s, even if he can get them printed, remain mere arbitrary assertions and offensive attitudes.
“These are truisms, but they are truisms that, for one engaged in such a retrospect as the present, have a lively relevance. And here are two others: a coterie naturally protects itself and its members, as far as it can, from the severities of criticism: where the whole literary world, so far as current critical expression is concerned, falls virtually under the control of something in the nature of a coterie, then the conditions for the development of creative talent are very bad indeed.”
“It is not in terms of the triumph of any coterie that one would describe the essence of the situation today. The lapsed function [of criticism] has slipped out of memory, and the literary world that makes the reputations gleaned by dons, dons’ wives, university-educated school teachers, and the educated classes in general, from the review pages of the Sunday papers can follow its natural promptings without embarrassment. It is natural, and not necessarily unamiable, to like kudos, and to see the point of pleasing a friend. The lengths to which the process of turning the social values into the distinctions and glories of contemporary literature can be carried (the context, I think, makes the force of ‘social’ plain) has been strikingly demonstrated in the recent elevation of a whole family to the status of living classics.
“It is significant that New York should have added its homage so readily and so unanimously. The system is, in fact, international. At home, it makes the ancient universities, or the relevant elements in them, a part of the literary world.”