10 SEPTEMBER 1948, Page 15

PUBLISHER TO THE GENERAL Sin,—The trigger-like quality of the language

Mr. Cyril Ray uses in his review of General Patton's book is something that the General himself (a professor of " picturesque profanity ") might well have envied. Accord- . ing to Mr. Ray, Patton was, inter alia, no gentleman, a Ruritanian Field- Marshal in Technicolor, a fumbler, a lover of slaughter, vainglorious, a bad subordinate and a blood-thirsty adolescent. Clearly Mr. Ray doesn't like the General, as man, soldier or writer, which of course is all well (within the province of a literary critic and unexceptional so far as the publishers of the work are concerned. But when Mr. Ray petulantly adds that he even dislikes the format of the book itself—" an ugly piece of book-production "—his criticism loses any claim to objectivity.

Now, Mr. Ray can kick dead generals around as much as he pleases, but he can't take an unfair slap at living publishers without retaliation. I therefore reply that his comment is as unkind and jaundiced as it is inaccurate and ill-informed. This particular volume was produced with the maximum ingredients permissible under the economy standards to which all members of the Publishers Association must conform. We went to the limit with weight of boards, substance of paper, quality of binding- cloth, size of type, margins, gold-blocking, end-papers, frontispiece, appendices, &c., and as an added refinement, we head-banded the spine —if Mr. Ray knows what that means! What more can a reputable publisher do aesthetically on his productions, unless he deliberately break the regulations, and also his obligations to his fellow publishers?

If ever the day comes when we can produce books " bound hi citron- green leather with a design of gilt trellis-work and dotted pomegranates" (such as Dorian Gray loved to fondle), the present writer will be the W. H. Allen and Co. Ltd., 43 Essex Street, W.C. 2.