Letter: The intellectual as Robin Hood

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Sir: In the first of his Reith Lectures ('Representations of the intellectual', 24 June), Edward Said quotes with approval a passage from C. Wright Mills's Power, Politics and People. 'If the thinker does not relate himself to the value of truth in political struggle,' writes Mills, 'he cannot responsibly cope with the whole of live experience.'

Thanks are due to Mills and to Said for giving us another reason to pursue truth. But is Said himself fully committed to that pursuit?

Barely a paragraph after the quotation from Mills come Said's own words: 'There is no question in my mind that the intellectual belongs on the same side with the weak and unrepresented - Robin Hood, some are likely to say.'

But why is there 'no question' in the professor's mind about that last assertion? Is he convinced that the 'weak and unrepresented' are always in possession of the truth? The Bandit of Sherwood Forest never pretended to be an intellectual, much less presume to dictate what the 'role of an intellectual' ought to be.

Yours sincerely,


London, NW4

24 June