5 SEPTEMBER 1958, Page 21


SIR,—It is good of Mr. Lehmann to bother writing so lengthily (his letter in your August 29 issue), but I wish it had not been quite so flushed and shrill, which made it difficult to work out his complaints in detail. However, I think 1 am correct in inferring that he is coming right out (relatively speaking) and stating that he is (a) for clarity and perspective in literature and (b) against solemn tosh. It gives me real pleasure to learn that, and I am sure will similarly give pleasure to many people who have never hitherto been certain on this point after reading his monthly writings.

It would he boring for everyone to go through his misstatements one by one, and it would be profitless for me to join in his comparison-by-nomination as I doubt that he and I have the same kind of personal preferences. But I really must publicly decline his appointment of me to the leadership of a literary IRA squad. The reasons arc that 1, personally, have no Culture Leader ambitions and that, far from wish- ing to liquidate him as he suggests, it would genuinely grieve me to see any such fate befall one who, apart from his rococo value, has such a long-standing reputation for generosity, kindliness and dedication to his own literary standards.

To get back to first principles, it was he, not who originally raised the silly issue of Journalists v, Critics—and which he now meticulously avoids re-

turning to. To he factual, it is Mr. Lehmann who crochets editorials about the Defence of Western Values • I do not. It is he whO is the manifesto-man 1 am not. and I promise him not to trespass.—Yours faithfully,


Alder Cottage, Diswell Water, Welwyn, Herts