LETTER from THE EDITOR
Saturday 14 December 1996
Reporting the resultant decay is not a particularly wholesome activity. One reader, Tony Whittaker from Surrey, accuses us of a "personal hate campaign" against John Major. No! Though not a huge admirer of the Prime Minister, I certainly don't hate him. Personally and journalistically, I'd much prefer not to be faced, day after day, with the relentless chronicle of internal Tory party decay. It is barely decent; an intrusion into deep corporate grief. At some point, readers of all newspapers are, I'm sure, going to sigh with distaste at the picture of yet another pink-faced resignee or rebel. These are not pretty sights and they don't sell newspapers. We may have to resort to putting more Howard Hodgkin paintings on the front page instead, as we did on Tuesday. The trouble is, of course, that he hasn't painted nearly enough.
Lynne Wilkins writes from Wales taking us to task for the report on the rise of the television bodice-ripper; she defends Defoe not as a sex- scene writer but as "a liberal, humane and moral writer", and decries the idea that Jane Austen's world is about tinkling teacups and honourable aristocrats. She is right on both counts, but Marianne Macdonald was referring not to the novels themselves, but to televised costume-drama adaptations of them. They are, surely, utterly different things. Austen was a hard, unsentimental reporter of her world; the idea of her stories being in "costume" would never have occurred to her. But, given TV treatment, it is idle to deny that the big houses, hats, breeches and so on are not an integral part of the modern entertainment: we are served not Jane Austen but "Jane Austen".
Defoe, perhaps, is a different matter. He wrote beautiful, clear, vigorous English and was a great inventor of forms as well as stories - the Homer of our native novel, even. But his books were part of something which has been obscured by the "Great Tradition". It is time to acknowledge that there is another central strain in the British novel, a cascade of vigorous, baggy, energetic fictions by Fielding, Smollett, Thackeray, Surtees, Kipling, John Cowper Powys and Grassic Gibbon. They form our rough, alternative, hedgerow tradition of great writing. They will, in time, make better television too.
The right-wing Christian, Anne Atkins, who has been taken on by The Daily Telegraph as an agony aunt, is starting well. Asked by a reader what to do when her son throws his Buzz Lightyear at his little sister, despite being warned that he'd be smacked, she tersely replies: ``Smack him.'' Apart from demonstrating what an effective deterrent smacking is, I find this a liberating seasonal injunction. There are so many people I've longed to smack - eminent Eurosceptic MPs, minor members of the Royal Family, Telegraph journalists, etc. Up to now, I've restrained myself - typical wet, hand-wringing liberal. No longer: if it's right to smack for throwing around Mr Lightyear, surely it's right to smack people for throwing the Prime Minister at the Chancellor too?
Life & Style blogs
Ebola outbreak: Why has a disease that's only ever killed 2,000 people captivated the darkest side of our imagination?
Ebola virus: UK health officials issue warning to doctors as experts admit the outbreak 'is not under control'
National Orgasm Day: Don't get caught up on climaxing
Watch: Vogue Italia's plus-size models in fetish-inspired lingerie shoot
Ebola: UK is ready to deal with outbreak, says Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
A day in the life of Vladimir Putin: The dictator in his labyrinth
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 4 The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...