19 JULY 1940, Page 15


Sta,—In his fascinating article on " The Enduring Italy " last week, Mr. Charles Morgan writes : " Paris is a delight because no one there considers it a waste of time to discuss for a couple of hours the texture of a paragraph, the form of a verse or the balance of a scene." May I give an illustration of this French zeal? In the early months of the last war (1914) I was often in a shed at Dunkirk where some English people were doing what they could for the wounded French soldiers (France was then our trusted ally), and one day I found the patients in turmoil because two of the wounded privates were arguing which was the greater imaginative writer, Victor Hugo or Jules Verne. Both the disputants became heated almost to the point of violence, and many of the others were Joining in. The champion of Victor Hugo seemed to be getting the better of it, but the conflict continued and was spreading till our doctor was obliged to intervene. Can one imagine two wounded Commies " arguing for a couple of hours on the comparative Merits, say, of Walter Scott and Dickens? It is in " culture " that the French beat us.—Yours faithfully, HENRY W. NEVINSON. 4 Downside Crescent, Hampstead, N.W. 3.