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Sexual Desire’s Jacket

In response to:

Conservative Advice from the January 29, 1987 issue

To the Editors:

Martha Nussbaum [NYR, January 29 and May 7] unfairly belabors Roger Scruton for his publisher’s error in stating, in the biographical note on the jacket of Sexual Desire, that “The Conservative Philosophy Group” advises Mrs. Thatcher, which I mistakenly believed to be the case when the jacket copy was being written. Mr. Scruton pointed out the error upon the book’s appearance and I promised to correct it in future printings. So it really adds little of substance to Martha Nussbaum’s criticism of Roger Scruton’s work for her to write that he “has permitted the claim to remain in print, unchallenged, on his own book, for close to a year” and to add, “if this is not tacit approval, it is remarkable carelessness.” In fact, it was neither approval nor carelessness on Mr. Scruton’s part. It was our error, and will be corrected when we reprint. One is, however, left with the sense that Mrs. Nussbaum is reaching a bit far in a general desire to clobber Roger Scruton, justifiably or not, with anything that comes to hand.

Erwin A. Glikes

The Free Press

New York City

Martha Nussbaum replies:

Perhaps Mr. Glikes does not realize in what a peculiar light Professor Scruton’s actions now appear as a result of his letter. Evidently, then, at the time when Scruton attacked me for making “false statements” about his career, he was fully aware that my sentence was simply a paraphrase of the publisher’s printed statement, which I had every reason to accept as true. Yet he tried to blame the error on me, accusing me of untruth. Nor, furthermore, did he avail himself of the excellent opportunity afforded by the NYR letters section, with its large audience, to point out and explicitly correct the publisher’s error. I have no interest in discovering what explains this odd behavior; I know nothing of Scruton’s motives and character. But I prefer the careless person I had formerly imagined, who really did not know what was printed in the American edition of his own book, to the more devious person that Mr. Glikes’s statement now forces us to acknowledge.

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