14 FEBRUARY 1941, Page 5

Most of the first comments I heard on the Sitwells'

libel action, in which each of the plaintiffs was awarded £350 damages, were to the effect that the sum was just £349 19s. Ix:Id. too high. Much as I deprecate libel actions against newspapers, I disagree. Mr. Justice Cassels' judge- ment seemed to me eminently fair. Here are three well- known literary figures, Edith, Osbert and Sacheverell Sitwell. They may have their idiosyncrasies, but no one could pretend that they count for nothing in the literary world of today. When a reviewer, given an anthology by one of them to assess, takes the opportunity to comment on " the vogue of the Sitwells, whose energy and self-assurance pushed them into a position which their merits would not have won " as one of " the literary curiosities of the nineteen-twenties," and adds that " now oblivion has claimed them," he and the paper that publishes the observations are, to say the least of it, asking for trouble. The two Messrs. Sitwell had nothing to do with the book. I do not know Miss Edith Sitwell, but she once presented The Spectator with a stuffed owl to indicate her opinion of its reviewing. Other journals, I believe, received symbols even less complimentary. She observes in her auto- biography in Who's Who: "in early youth took an intense dislike to simplicity, morns-dancing, a sense of humour, and every kind of sport excepting reviewer-baiting, and has con- tinued these distastes ever since.

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