3 MAY 1940, Page 18

THE BEST BOOKS IN THE WORLD Snt,—As paper and space

are in short supply, I intend to leave "The World" alone. I merely wish to mention, in connexion with English literature, two books which, in my perverse opinion, should always find a place in any list of "best books," viz., Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, and Sir Thomas Browne's Religio Medici.

I know that I am a heretic, and will find few supporters, but I am prepared to be burnt at the literary stake for my opinions.

I read Le Mane D'Arthur in my boyhood and the enchant- ment and delight with which I read it then has survived the passage of more years than I care to remember. The music of jts lovely English prose is sheer delight, and from its "magic casements" one can look upon the beauties of " faery lands forlorn." It is the best escape from the harsh realities of history ever invented. I confess without shame that I belong to that despised band who, "as we gain experience of life," desire less, not more reality in what we read.

The magnificent rhetoric of Browne's Religio Medici beats upon the ear like the roll of a drum. Its prose marches like the tramp of an old-time red-coated regiment. It is pompous in the Greek sense, that is, it has an escort, an escort of rich overtones which attends no other English prose classic. "Thank the Lord for making him, and him for what he's made!" Up the, Browneites and support me !—Yours faithfully,