1 FEBRUARY 1963, Page 14

HISPANIC STUDIES am sorry to see, in your issue of

January 18, that Mr. J. M. Cohen, in order to score off pro- fessors of Spanish whom he presumably dislikes. has proceeded beyond merely misleading your readers to denying the existence of some of us who would be grateful for whatever constructive infor- mation, support and opinions he can give to Dr. Parry's committee inquiring into Latin American studies. The claims of polemical writing perhaps excuse his original article being partial and mis- leading on the subject of the extent and emphasis of Hispanic studies in this country. But whatever investigation has Mr. Cohen done to announce, as he does now, that Latin American research does not exist?

Although to date, in many cases, official support has been negligible, a small but growing group has braved the improbability of securing academic ad- vancement and established itself in Cambridge. So have others in London, and possibly elsewhere, as consultation of the Bulletin of Historical Research, the Cambridge University Reporter and other periodicals would show. I know that the committee will not neglect opportunities to consult and assess facilities for them and for future research workers.

What I should be glad to know from Mr. Cohen is how, given the peculiar duration and nature of Hispanic hegemony in America, Latin American letters, economics or history during the greater part of the period since 1492 can be studied without a thorough grounding in Peninsular culture and his- tory. After all, these 300 years are two-thirds of the total field, and the middle two centuries that elapse between the popular Discovery/Conquest and Reform/Independence highspots are as neglected as any period since 1820, and much longer. Secondly, I regret that on the occasion of Mr. Cohen's visit to Cambridge last term when I heard him give an amusingly racy talk of personal observations on the Mexican scene, I had no time to inquire further about evidence of such solid academic or literary activity there as would entice young men to put three or four years' time into using their training and wits in the exacting work of research or cultural diffusion. Are the many fine books of plays, history and sociology that are now corning into our libraries wrong in fostering an impression that there is something more permanent and promising in Mexico than the anecdotal candyfloss on the intellec- tual scene and the corrupt police and officialdom he described? People in my situation would be most interested in the possibility of the sort of exchanges His Excellency the Mexican Ambassador would welcome. Did he, during his visit, discover any pros- pect of travel bursaries, visiting fellowships or lec- tureships in the form of firm offers of reciprocal awards to which Dr. Parry's committee might feel it could take responsibility for recommending British universities to respond?


Clare College, Cambridge