Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website ( — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.

  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.


Vol. 13 No. 3 · 7 February 1991

Search by issue:


I hope your readers do not uncritically swallow the W.G. Runciman account of corporate takeovers (LRB, 22 November 1990). You would never know from that account that the typical takeover is driven by the perception –often accurate – that a relatively incompetent management team is not making the most of the assets of the corporation. Indeed, the Swedes who took over Runciman’s company may well have made an accurate judgment of this type. (Thirty per cent compound growth in earnings per share over five years is not necessarily something to brag about – perhaps it could have been substantially higher, perhaps profit in future years had been insufficiently provided for.) And if unanticipated economic events, like war or severe global recession, cause the Swedes to lose their shirts, it won’t prove anything about the competence of the earlier Runciman managerial team.

Particularly revealing in this context is Mr Runciman’s predominant concern for the fates of his top executive directors. If they really did do a fine job of managing, they should have no serious trouble finding new jobs. If they did not reap great benefits from the sale of stock during the takeover, it is either because they chose not to become significant shareholders in the company or because they had no funds to invest (unlikely for all but the most prodigal of top corporate managers, whose remuneration tends if anything to be too handsome). Nor can their treatment be said to be ‘unfair’ if in fact they were not the best people for their jobs (something neither I nor Runciman can determine, though I do think it unfair to those who are relatively competent if they get thrown out because to outsiders they are insufficiently distinguishable from the bad apples in the boardroom).

It’s amazing, therefore, that Runciman’s solicitousness extends only to these people, to the total exclusion of those employees lower down in the corporate hierarchy who may face wage reductions, relocation, or even the axe (either during the transition, or later on if the company’s new debt becomes too burdensome). But maybe it’s not so amazing after all: for it is just such chumminess, and sympathetic identification among those within the business élite, that too often causes managers not to pursue their companies’ best interests.

Lawrence Beyer
Yale Law School, New Haven

Transport House complained

In his review of the recent biography of Bernard Ingham (LRB, 10 January) Christopher Hitchens refers to the Leeds Weekly Citizen as a ‘Labour machine mouthpiece’. As a former editor of that paper (1945-49), I must say a word in defence of my contributors, who struggled with some success to make it into something quite different. These naturally included local MPs and city councillors, but also Fabians, academics from various faculties, critics, and personal friends of mine. The paper dutifully outlined official party policy, but this was continually open to criticism from readers and contributors. Because of this openness we were bombarded with complaints from Transport House, especially from Len Williams, my predecessor as editor. His normal method of controversy was the smear. He believed that all criticism was disloyal, whereas I believed that rational criticism was a positive duty. Eventually I was told by the Board that I must never publish articles or letters critical of party policy. I therefore resigned and my successor at once made the paper what it had been in the past, and presumably what it was some years later in the days of Ingham’s contributions. By that time I had moved to Liverpool.

I should add that we would never print the vulgar abuse deplored by your reviewer, and that we never attacked ‘metropolitan eggheads’. On the contrary, we published many articles on modern writers from James to Auden, from Aragon to Sartre, without causing any decline in the paper’s circulation. This was because we warned academics not to use critical jargon.

Kenneth Muir
Birkenhead, Merseyside

A Day at the Races

Carlo Ginzburg’s engaging letter (Letters, 10 January) wonders whether my queries about his hook Storia Notturna (Ecstasies) are not prompted by a conservative resistance to all historical experiment. By no means. Discontinuous narratives, arcane readings, diagonal problem-shifters have often shed new light on the past. But they too, no less than other kinds of history, must answer to the controls of logic and evidence. Does Ginzburg’s use of the method of ‘polythetic classification’ satisfy these? In my review I doubted whether its principal outcome, the category of asymmetric de-ambulation, really unified the fields of Greek mythology and the witches’ Sabbath. In his response, Ginzburg expresses his astonishment at such scepticism, ‘given the ubiquitous presence, in witchcraft trials, demonological treatises, diabolical iconography, of limping devils or devils with animal feet’.

This, however, is an all too apt example of the danger indicated in this kind of classification: that the classes become infinitely stretchable. Cloven hooves may indeed signify the devil, but alas, they are symmetrical – and worn by satyrs before Satan. Similarly, while devils are naturally everywhere in witchcraft trials and the lore of the Sabbath, those with a limp emphatically are not. It is a logic of association, not of connection, that extends the claim of ‘ubiquity’ here. Ginzburg has so far demonstrated no special link between lameness and the Sabbath (or for that matter ecstatic fertility cults: the limbs of the Night-Walkers are perfectly sturdy).

So little has the Limping Devil to do with the organising phobias of the Sabbath that when it emerges as a specific motif in popular literature, it is at the antipodes of supernatural terror. Luis Velez’s El Diablo Cojuelo (1641) was written at a time when the Spanish witch-craze was still active. Its subtitle – ‘A Novel from the Other Life, Translated into This One’ – would seem to promise just what Ginzburg might have wished, a voyage into the land of the dead. In fact, Velez’s fiction is a burlesque survey of the morals of the living, in which a student on the run from a wanton encounters a devil on crutches, imprisoned in a flask, who on release lifts the roofs of Madrid to guide him panoramically over the mores of the city. Before setting him free, the hero repeatedly enquires what sort of devil he is looking at – Lucifer, Satan, Belial? ‘Those are demons of the higher callings,’ comes the reply, whereas he is no more than the spirit of gossip and intrigue, who brings the sarabande and chaconne, serenades and somersaults into the world. He even explains that the goat-footed devil of the Sabbath is his enemy, and that if he himself is lame, it is because when all the devils fell from heaven, the others landed on top of him – a nice twist of the ankle to asymmetric de-ambulation. In Lesage’s rococo reworking of the tale, Le Diable Boiteux (1707), the devil becomes the spirit of sexual espièglerie: ‘I am the demon of the voluptuous, or to put it more honourably, the god Cupid’ – lame since thrown to the ground when wrestling with the demon of pecuniary gain. Through Lesage, the figure of the Crippled Devil as dragoman to the satire of manners became a European device, inspiring collections of sketches down to the era of Hugo and Sainte-Beuve. What unifies this long tradition, from the Baroque through the Enlightenment to the Romantic period, is terrestrial mockery. Should we enrol it too, as one more secret outing in the perpetual expeditions of the human mind to the beyond? I hope the suggestion doesn’t pull anyone’s leg.

Ginzburg ends by taxing me with ethnocentric lack of interest, indeed of respect, for shamanism. His evidence: I spoke of the merits of Trevor-Roper’s famous essay on the witch-craze; elsewhere Trevor-Roper once used the word ‘gyration’ in a sentence disdainful of tribal experiences outside Europe; the same word is used of the trance of the shaman by myself; and I refer to another scholar, Vilamos Voigt, who uses the word ‘misery’ of shamanism to boot: ergo – superior ethnocentrism. Should I call this construction polythetic perversity, or playfulness? Whichever, I am tickled by its illustration of the method of ‘intermediate links’ Ginzburg found in Wittgenstein. Of course, for a more rationalist approach, to honour the merits of a writer’s essay on one subject is not quite the same as to assent to all he has written: tribes are not exactly identical with shamans; the metaphorical use of a term is a little different from its literal meaning; and to cite an author is not to disagree with him – especially if one expresses a demurrer. One could even object that it is difficult to describe the remark of a Hungarian folklorist on something familiar from Magyar experience as ethnocentric. But as I pointed out, the detection of ‘family resemblances’ permits just such assimilations, without end.

Protesting my reserve towards them, Ginzburg advocates Brecht ’s motto that it is better to start from the bad new things than from the good old ones. I’ve always been puzzled by the popularity of this dictum on the left. Why should we restrict ourselves to this simpleminded pair – what about the bad old things and the good new ones? Wouldn’t it be more advisable to start from the latter: let us say, in Ginzburg’s case, Gellner and Goody rather than Wittgenstein and Lévi-Strauss – perhaps further from fashion, but closer to truth?

Noel Annan (Letters, 24 January), on the other hand, appears to be suggesting that no one on the left can decently welcome any new intellectual developments if capitalism is scoring political triumphs. For a historian of ideas, this seems a self-destructive argument. But it points to one of the weaknesses of his portrait of Our Age – the assumption of a unitary Zeitgeist embracing the worlds of English government and thought alike, the vision of a single distended generation, with at most a sprinkling of ‘deviants’ round the edges. The starting-point of this collective biography is the transformation of British sensibility – among those who mattered – by the Great War, reaction to which moulded the outlook of this moral cohort. Since Annan’s account ends, if on a note of debonair deniability, with a repudiation of that outlook, it is perhaps logical that he should now defend Edwardian values from any responsibility for the disaster of 1914. Liberal civilisation, he suggests, had nothing to do with the outbreak of mass killing in 20th-century Europe. Between exclamation marks, the argument becomes somewhat syncopated. But its gist seems to be this. Of the Great Powers only England and France could be called liberal, and (are we given to understand?) their hands were clean. The war itself, for which Germany, Austria and Russia bear the blame, is not to be connected with the brutalities of inter-war politics – the rise of Fascism of Stalinism. Modern barbarism springs independently from the ‘émigré circles in which Lenin moved’ and which later instituted ‘Stalin’s regime and its antidote Hitler’.

One wonders whether, polemical ardours spent, Annan really wants to defend these contentions in the cold light of day. Does he need to be reminded that Germany, England, Austro-Hungary and France shared a common rule of law and set of individual liberties – the classic negative freedoms of European liberalism? Russia, which did not (as I pointed out), failed to last the course of industrial slaughter to no end. The Great War cost seven million lives. What serious historian seeks to explain the savageries which followed without relation to its structural and moral consequences?

For the rest, it was Ernst Nolte who discovered that Hitler was the antidote to Stalin – the Judeocide a reactive violence. But not even he imagined that Nazism was conceived in the Russian social-democratic emigration. Here one must be charitable, and assume that Annan got carried away at the races. But the horse he was – not unsympathetically – backing, the cause of Isaiah Berlin, is liable to be handicapped by wild cries from the stand.

Perry Anderson
Los Angeles


Readers of Claude Rawson’s fascinating review of some recent editions of Burke (LRB, 20 December 1990) may be interested to know that the accusation of sansculottisme was once turned against Burke himself – significantly, after the Revolution. Richard Payne Knight’s Analytical Inquiry into the Principles of Taste (1805) includes a critique of Burke’s psychologistic aesthetics, and particularly of his analysis of the experience of the sublime as a combination of astonishment and terror. If, Knight argues, Burke ‘had walked up St James’s Street without his breeches, it would have occasioned great and universal astonishment; and if he had, at the same time, carried a loaded blunderbuss in his hands, the astonishment would have been mixed with no small portion of terror: but I do not believe that the united effects of these two powerful passions would have produced any sentiment or sensation approaching to sublime.’ Like Kant, Knight believed that the sublime was partly ethical: Burke, he argued, had demonstrated it in his attempt to defend the Indians against the depredations of the imperial government even if he had failed to define it in the Philosophical Enquiry.

D.L. Macdonald
University of British Columbia


John Caird expresses his frank irritation with what Post-Structuralism is doing with Shakespeare (Letters, 20 December 1990). His frustration seems to be based on a number of misconceptions about what Post-Structuralism is, and what it is setting out to do. These misconceptions can very easily be cleared up.

First, the question of meaning. As a member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Mr Caird says he has spent many years trying to fathom the meaning of Shakespeare’s plays. It is entirely understandable that he should assume that we, too, are concerned with Shakespeare’s meaning. However, this is not the case. We believe, with Professor Hawkes, that Shakespeare’s plays don’t, in any essential or objective sense, mean anything at all; it is we, his readers, producers and audiences who do the meaning. Far from introducing unnecessary complexities, this actually makes life a great deal easier for the student: once you have liberated yourself from the burden of trying to work out how Shakespeare saw the world, you can do whatever you like with the plays. If you want them to express a patriarchal misogyny, that’s perfectly acceptable; if you want them to do the opposite and articulate a materialist deconstruction of masculine ideology, that’s even better. All that’s necessary, really, is that you show how the plays confront the question of power: do they collude with it, or do they resist it? Surely that ’s not too difficult to grasp?

Second, the question of Post-Structuralism’s style. Although, as I have said, Post-Structuralism is not inherently complex, it is true that our ‘house style ’, if I may put it that way, makes it seem more difficult than it really is. Again, it is quite understandable that Mr Caird should object to this, particularly since he himself is a member of a profession that is concerned with the problem of communicating with large and heterogeneous audiences. However, I am sure that Mr Caird will feel less hostile towards our project if I explain the reasons for our style. As any sociologist will tell you, where there are no intrinsically difficult concepts involved, the use of highly-specialised, quasi-technical, virtually impenetrable language has a twofold purpose: first, it serves to identify and bond together members of a self-defining social group; and second, it serves to exclude outsiders, who are naturally baffled and irritated by what they perceive simply as pretentious jargon. It may, additionally, serve to conceal a real poverty of thought, though this obviously doesn’t apply to Post-Structuralism.

Why should we wish to exclude outsiders? Well, unlike Mr Caird, we are not concerned with communicating with a wider audience. We see the world in terms of true and false discourses, and, like Mrs Thatcher, we believe that if you are not for us, you are against us. We are concerned, not to break down barriers and reach out to the general playgoing public, but to maintain a sense of crisis within academia. I know this may sound a bit odd to Mr Caird. But if you think about it, there wouldn’t be much point in heroically ‘throwing yourselves across the barbed wire separating genres and modes’ and ‘spiking the Gatling guns of criticism’ (to quote Professor Hawkes) if, all the time, the enemy was quite happy to reach an accommodation with you. No, if you want to be seen as courageous, heroic and daring (Mr Caird will notice that when Professor Hawkes is reviewing, he subtly uses terms like these for the Post-Structuralist books, while dismissing all the rest as feeble, woolly and outdated) – to repeat, if you want to be an intellectual hero, you ’ve got to have an enemy to attack.

One of our biggest problems – and this is something I’m quite willing to admit – is that there haven’t really been any suitably dogmatic or authoritarian figures in the critical establishment in the last thirty or so years for us to go for. It was all right for people like Barthes writing in France in the Sixties: they had a monolithic literary establishment to attack. But in England and America most of the big, influential guns have been disappointingly open-minded. In fact, as Mr Caird will know, one of the key notes of Shakespeare criticism in the Sixties and Seventies was ‘ambivalence’, and you can hardly mount a daring attack against ambivalence. That’s why we were so delighted when James Wood began this correspondence by questioning Professor Hawkes’s critical premises. It may have seemed to Mr Caird from the tone of our letters that we were angry with James Wood for challenging our methods. Actually, it’s just what we were hoping for. Mr Caird will recall my own letter, nearly a year ago now, accusing Mr Wood of being an ignorant ponce. Of course I don’t really think James Wood is a ponce. This was merely a gambit, one of the games we play in Post-Structuralism. Its purpose was to create a symbolic enemy (what we call the ‘other’) in order to justify our own militancy. The next move in the game was made by John Drakakis and Alan Sinfield. As Mr Caird will no doubt remember, they took up and developed my theme, representing James Wood as an intolerant, ineducable bigot with just enough sly plausibility to be able to exercise a pernicious influence on those readers of LRB who are incapable of thinking for themselves. James Wood then responded in the way we hoped he would. The result was that we now had the enemy we needed. In this way we were able neatly to prove the need for unrelenting critical vigilance against the insidiously corrupting forces of bourgeois liberalism.

I hope this clears up some of Mr Caird ’s problems.

Anthony Pratt
East Yorkshire

Floreat Canada

I couldn’t agree more with Ian and Charlotte Townsend-Gault (Letters, 10 January) about Canada. Who are we in Britain with our slavish press, failing democracy, racism and insouciance to be so condescending and dismissive? And so consistently? I spent two weeks at a writers’ conference in Toronto in 1987. I liked the city very much, found Canadians pleasant, open, articulate and spirited. On the campus we talked about less numbing things than ‘Lark Rise to Laura Ashley’ and who was going to be next Master of St Ethwold’s, I found that students – a new experience – didn’t treat their seniors like faintly unpleasant slugs that had somehow got tiresomely onto the fingers of Thatcher’s children as they popped things into their mouths. Floreat Canada.

Jennifer Dawson
Charlbury, Oxfordshire


It is good at last to see the whole issue of the bass-player being addressed in your journal (LRB, 10 January), an issue you have scrupulously avoided in the past. However, I fear that Graham Coster merely perpetuates the common myth that exists about this grievously neglected element of the rock’n’roll band. He begins perceptively enough, observing that it is of course the drummer who makes the band, not the singer or the lead guitar (I know: I was that drummer). But he then calumniates the bassist as a dull dog, hovering quietly and prosaically in the background, going badoompa-doompa-doompa-doom. He goes so far as to imply that these guys don’t even take drugs! In fact, as we all know, it is often the bass-player who makes the song. Listen to Paul McCartney on ‘Taxman’, Bill Wyman on ‘Kingbee’ or ‘Jumpin’ Jack Flash’, John Entwhistle on ‘My Generation’ – to name but a few. Some of the most thrilling moments in pop music come from that cool dude with the low notes. Modern rap music, indeed, is now almost entirely made up of bass lines. The trouble is, your average listener hardly hears the bass line, unshrill as it is: he just takes it contemptuously for granted. So let’s have a little respect for the drummer’s closest ally, okay. Besides, my brother played the bass.

Colin McGinn
New York

Duff Poetry

One thousand and one nights in the pleasure garden to Damian Grant (Letters, 6 December 1990) in defence of the ‘offensive’ Fiona Pitt-Kethley. I look forward to her next appearance – a Valentine, perhaps.

B.J. Grayfriesen

Events of ’68

At least one of Philippe Sollers’s novels was translated into English sooner than Patrick Parrinder supposes (LRB, 10 January): The Park was published by Calder and Boyars in 1968 in a translation by A.M. Sheridan Smith.

Christopher Burns
Whitehaven, Cumbria

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.