29 APRIL 1955, Page 17

SHAW AGAINST LAWRENCE SIR,—What Mr. Coombes found on looking up

the passages named by Mr. Rubinstein might well be all that he says. When Lawrence states that for Shaw 'fidelity is sex, and sex it fidelity' he is impugning a moral or intellec

tual attitude rather than offering a literati criticism. Or so it seemed to me; and it was on such that I ventured to pronounce 'inept.' It is possible I could be mistaken. Many 'geniuses have exhibited envy : the Goncourts spitefully resented the immense sales of Zola, as Dos- toievsky was jealous of the popularity of Tolstoy. Schopenhauer was eaten up with spleen against Hegel, and Byron was jealous even of Beau Brummell. I don't believe, and certainly did not intend to convey, that Law- rence was jealous of Shaw, Bennett or Mackenzie—even though a 'genius' is also a man, humanly partial to the bit of fun and something to eat and drink that a certain vulgar commodity can secure. His 'revile- ments,' as I thought I had implied, issued from the deep sense of integrity affronted by what he would call their 'fripperies.'

Still, even the most sanctimonious 'Lauren- tian' would find it hard to disprove that the great man could be both 'silly' and 'mean."The man is nothing,' he writes in a letter, of a brother-in-law who is only a collier. He thought Jane Eyre was pornographic, and approved the banning of Ulysses. It is an un- comfortable fact that the moral grandeur in- forming a work of art can be incredibly absent in the poor harassed human who shaped it. Enumerating his little meannesses and puerili- ties is as distasteful as it has proved profitable to biographical vultures. At the other extreme is the kind of solemn academic prig smug with a fancied monopoly of msthetic appreciation who refuses to accept them as human beings but must have them as plaster saints. It was Over such 'Laurentians,' ever eager to nourish their self-esteem by defending him at all costs. that Lawrence himself had many a good laugh, but from whom he ran a mile.—Yours faith- 25 Overstone Road, Hammersmith