16 OCTOBER 1953, Page 16

THE INDISPENSABLE CENTURY SIR,—In your issue of September 25th, which

I have seen only recently, the editing of French Thought in the Eighteenth Century is attributed to me in a review by Professor Bonamy Dobr6e. In fact, I can lay claim only to the Introduction to this book, as is made clear in the publisher's description on the jacket, as well as on the title page.

Since the book is not, in any accepted sense, " mine," I have been wondering with a certain detachment what your reviewer meant by describing it as " designed rather pour la jeune fille (though not so young as all that)." From such a quarter and at this date, this could hardly be another gibe at the stock figure of the sentimental spinster. If it were, it would seem strangely inappro- priate. I am inclined to think that, no doubt unintentionally, professor Dobree has hit on an excellent definition of the sensitive and intelligent reader which most modern writers would like to have. In an eighteenth-century

context there would be no doubt about It rings nicely in period as a euphemism for such not negligible readers as Catherine the Great, Julie de Lespinasse, or even Mme d'Houdetot.—Yours faithfully,