3 DECEMBER 1954, Page 14

THE CENSORSHIP OF BOOKS Sia,--Sir Compton Mackenzie seems to have

made the best reply possible to the comments on obscene literature which appeared in the Sunday School Chronicle recently, but un- fortunately he has done it by selective quotations and by making considerable play on two obvious printer's errors. We wrote: ' the blue-pencilling police sergeant to whom the writers of the quoted letter referred some- what slightingly might well be a sounder judge on moral issue than some of them are.' Sir Compton distorted this into ' The Sunday School Chronicle deplores a slighting reference to the blue-pencilling police sergeant whom it considers " a sounder judge on moral issue than some of the signatories to that letter.'

NC did not quote, nor did he answer, the point we made in the following paragraph: ' We doubt whether the critics of recent

prosecutions can list many books which, during the list five years, have been subjects of successful prosecutions and which the world would not have been better without. In fact, we doubt whether many books that hare been the subjects of unsuccessful prosecutions would really have been seriously missed'

He also quoted only the first half of the following sentence: ' Authors ought not to be given freedom to 'write obscene matter, and we are not aware of anyone who wants to punish an author until he has done just that.'

Sir Compton says that he does not desire ' to allow a free circulation for bawdy books written with the obvious intention of appealing only to self-indulgent bawdincss.' Would he approve of any legal action at all against these books I If so, would that not be very much on a level with an attempt by Sunday School officials to dictate what books written for adult entertainment arc to be suppressed ? '

It seems a pity that despite the fact that he signed the letter of protest he has to confess, ' I have not read any of the three novels the publishers of which have been prosecuted recently.'--Yours faithfully,

SYDNEY C. I UCKER The National Sunday School Union 104-5 Newgate Street, E.C.I