13 FEBRUARY 1959, Page 23

Sta,—You would doubtless agree that literary excel- lence is not

a quality which can be possessed by a book which possesses nothing else. In the case of a work of fiction the quality is used in the service of telling an imagined story. The question at issue is: does the subject of the story count, one way or the other, in a judgment on the total merits of the work. or is all of whatever value the work possesses in the manner of the telling?

If this Lolita may not be censured on account of its subject, to what lengths may not gifted literary executants carry their imaginative delvingi? There is e.g., bestiality to be sensitively explored (country policemen could supply some raw material). Surely the obvious weakness of Croce's aesthetic is that it is plain that some subjects, with which art may deal, are more worthy of attention than others, 'and some are worthy of no attention.—Yours faith- fully,


Bentham Rectory,' Norwich, Norfolk