Right of Reply: Peter Hitchens
`The Express' columnist and author of `The Abolition of Britain' replies to criticisms of him in Boyd Tonkin's recent article on being a Booker Prize judge
Tuesday 02 November 1999
I don't really mind being called a pig-ignorant hooligan by someone I have not knowingly met, and I reluctantly accept the dismissal of my book as an "overpraised rant" in a paper that has not reviewed it. But I must rebut Boyd Tonkin's suggestion that I directed "racist insults" at the novelist Anita Desai.
I have never voiced an opinion on Miss Desai's work. I believe that time is the only reliable judge of literary merit. I mentioned her, in passing, in a discussion about changes in the English literature curriculum, where some have sought to replace traditional authors with modern ones. One critic of the existing curriculum suggested that the most dynamic English writing today was often found outside England. He listed, among others, Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Anita Desai, Nadine Gordimer and Chinua Achebe as examples of this. I wrote: "It would be a bold person who suggested, now, that these fashionable writers will endure to become part of the great canon of English literature. Is it possible that they have been chosen not so much for their quality as for their sex, colour, or for their concern with modish causes?"
It is not racialist to believe that the literature taught in schools, rather than that shortlisted for the Booker Prize, should be chosen because it transcends its own time.
One of the sad effects of our cultural revolution, and the stifling conformism that it seeks to impose, is that any resistance to liberal opinion tends to be met not by reason, but by allegations of personal wickedness. Do people still not understand where this sort of thing can lead?
TVEnough to make ardent arachnophobes think twice
Will explain back story to fictional kingdom Westeros
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 2015 General Election: Green party will not appear in TV debate alongside Ukip – says BBC
- 2 Kentucky gang rape: 15-year-old boy left in critical condition after sexual attack by group at party
- 3 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
- 4 North Korean officials 'publicly executed for watching South Korean soap operas'
- 5 Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Cumberbacklash: Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange riles Marvel fans
Downton Abbey season 5 episode 6 - review: Thomas and Lady Edith show sad signs of the times
Halloween 2014: The scariest movies to watch on Netflix
Spider House, BBC4 - review: Enough to make ardent arachnophobes think twice
Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not 'a magician with a magic wand'
Huge surge in Ukip support after EU funding row, according to new poll
Ukip ‘exploiting grooming scandal’ to secure party’s first police chief
Nigel Farage: 'There’s nothing wrong with white people blacking up'
Muslims, immigration and teenage pregnancy: British people are ignorant about almost everything
Nigel Farage and Frankie Boyle clash over Andrew Lawrence's 'Mock the Week' criticism