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New Left Review I/202, November-December 1993


Christopher Hitchens

Reply to John Newsinger

Over the past decade, I must have read yards of stuff, much of it penned by wised-up radicals, about the decay of authorship. The writer, we are often instructed, barely matters at all. His or her intentions and desires are an obstacle to a close reading or a clear understanding: a vestigial ‘privilege’ conferred by tradition. Now come the letters of Larkin and all of a sudden it is the private jokes and secret vices of the author that matter above all. It’s been amusing to see these two positions being held, in some instances, by the same people. I wrote my essay on the Larkin affair in part as a satire on this mentality, or set of mentalities.

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