In response to:
Beyond Criticism from the December 9, 1965 issue
To the Editors:
If Lionel Trilling is a figure of “tremendous importance,” as Robert Mazzocco remarks at one point in his review of Beyond Culture (NYR, Dec. 9), you would never guess it from the tone and substance of the review in its entirety. I myself have trouble following Mr. Trilling’s thought, and trouble agreeing when I do follow, in such more or less theoretical performances of his as “The Fate of Pleasure.” But Mr. Mazzocco seems to me to do the book as a whole a monstrous injustice by concentrating so exclusively on such pieces and largely passing over the excellence of other pieces in Beyond Culture.
I have admired Mr. Mazzocco’s work for The Review thus far. He, at the very least, is serious in his sprightly way. Malcolm Muggeridge, on the other hand, is just a professional literary assassin—one whose attempts to shed blood are, moreover, often frustrated by the manifest irresponsibility and compulsive sadism of his mind. Why, then, is he allowed to continue his efforts (Walt Whitman was a “queen,” Max Beerbohm a self-disguised “Jew” and “homosexual,” Stalin’s purge victims were “revolutionary riff-raff,” etc.) in your generally excellent and often indispensable publication?
New York City
January 20, 1966