29 JANUARY 1960, Page 12


SIR,—Recent reviews of Honottr'd Shade, Mr. David Craig's in the Spectator being among them, makes it necessary to raise the question of qualifications in .a reviewer with regard to the subject of the review : 10 this case Scottish poetry. I know that Mr. Craig, unlike certain other re' viewers, is qualified generally to deal with Scottish literature by his interest and experience in and of the subject, together with his academic qualifications in English Literature (a qualification which, by itself, gives nobody any right to set up as a critic of Scottish or any other literature), and this is sufficientlY manifest in his work, unlike .that of certain other reviewers. Even at this level, I question whether his. qualification is adequate, because of his lack 01 Gaelic. Without a good knowledge of Gaelic no man can expect to be taken seriously on the subject of Scottish literature. 1 myself, despite over twenty years study of the contribution to Scottish literature, P10,5 my academic training in English Language and Literature, am not qualified in the full sense to criticise Scottish literature because of my deficiencY in Gaelic. But Mr. Craig seems to diqualify himself in another and more serious way: he is not really interested in poetry at all, but in fiction, as he states. Surely a map who has no faith in poetry today is the last man who should criticise it professionally? What amelioration of the art can he expect to achieve?—Yours faithfully.

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