Letter: Cheap books need not be nasty

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The Independent Online
Sir: James Fenton is indeed welcome back, but I cannot say that I like the opening to his first piece ('A yawning gap in the literary market,' 7 March). Wordsworth Classics may be cheap and unpretentious, but nasty they are not. As books they seem to be quite well made, less likely, for example, to split into pieces than the Penguin classics of many years.

Why is he so heavy on Villette? The day of Mr Fenton's article, one of our shops required seven copies for the weekly top-up. And is the book all that bad? Margot Peters' biography, Unquiet Soul, reveals that George Eliot thought it 'a still more wonderful book than Jane Eyre'.

Has Mr Fenton seen the Wordsworth Poetry editions? For pounds 2 (50p more than for a bodice-ripper), you can get a volume of, say, Milton in a volume that is a pleasure to handle and look at. If people might be led to think that they can fill their travel time by finally reading Paradise Lost, that has got to be a market slot worth aiming at.

Yours sincerely,



West Yorkshire

12 March