In response to:
The Harlot's Progress from the October 31, 1963 issue
To the Editors:
V. S. Pritchett is elegantly, scholarly, and fantastically wrong about Fanny Hill—no brothel, select or otherwise, was ever like that, Ladies in brothels are not nymphomaniacs or even “lusty”; to the contrary, they usually have little or no interest in the more normal varieties of sex. They operate in an atmosphere so businesslike that it would blunt the desire of anyone but the pervert or the sadly frustrated husband or sailor on leave; and it is a matter of honor, of principle, and of course for them not to share the short-lived excitements of their clients. John Cleland’s brothel is a highschool boy’s dream, and since indeed, after London, Smyrna, and Bombay he was bound to know better, he clearly wrote the book as the worst kind of potboiler for the worst kind of fools. That we still talk about it is not a measure of his talent but of our stupidity.
New York City
December 12, 1963