What is impure reading?
SIR,-.1 refer in this letter to the leading artick, oddly titled .' Lady C': ,the Truth ", which appeared in your paper on February 10.
It seems an odd title for at least two reasons: not only does it imply that your leader-writer knows the truth about this book, but also. more surprisingly. that the truth is ready to hand. But this is a time of hysteria of extreme and exclusive views, when this book must be seen either as a modern restatement of black magic or else as a complete ethical guide. Either view is loud and lunatic, and we may well have to wait several years for the quiet voice of reason.
But for the moment, may I make two small comments on your article? First, that a good writer often expresses contradictions: that any writer is mutilates] by partial quotation. and that the better the writer the greater the risk of distortion by arbitrary quotation. Plato is not Platonism, Lawrence is not the Lawrence myth. It seems only fair to offer a passage to balance the one you quoted. I suggest the following:
"Whatever the mystery which has brought forth man and the universe, it is a non-human mystery, it has its own great ends. man is not the criterion . . . Best strive with oneself only. not with
the universe The mystery of creation was fathomless, infallible, inexhaustible. for ever. Races came and went, species passed away, but ever new species arose. MOTO lovely, or equally lovely. and always surpassing wonder. The fountain-head was incorruptible and unsearchable. It had no limits." (Women in Love, Phoenix edition, p.470.)
And this too: "We'd rather die than give up our little selfrighteous, self-opinionated selfwill." (Ibid. p.37). Neither of these statements on macrocosm and microcosm need frighten or embarrass the thoughtful Christian.
My second point is suggested by the last quotation. and by numerous passages in the New Testament, It is, broadly speaking. that there are special dangers reserved for those ano think themselves right. Journalists are not infallible, and Catholic journalists are not infallible, though we might expect then to be more humble. Further. no local clerical opinion of a book is infallible: we have yet to hear the view of the universal epsicopate on " Lady Chatterley's Lover ". If this beat disturbance becomes grave enough to warrant such a solemn end authoritative statement, then we shall at least know that the book was read before it Was condemned.
Your article mentioned the possibility of a "proper balance between puritanism and licentiousness": of these one is a heresy. the other a common enough failure of human nature. It may be useful to compare the gentleness cif Christ towards the woman taken in adultery with his bitter condemnation of the Scribes and Pharisees (cp. Matt. XXIII). Given the choice. I should rather be judged lustful than proud, On the positive side. the strangest people are our neighbours: there are even pagans among them,
Mark Gretton 11 Colosseum Terrace, Albany Street, W.W.I.
We readily admit that the tide was inaccwate. but titles in journalism are subject to space. and we tried to set the matter in a proper perspective in the article itself. Tire point that puzzles us is the following. Why should this book he exempted from the Church's teaching that it is sinful to read impure writing. likely in the normal reader to arouse impure feelings? We admit that human reactions greatly differ; we admit, too, that the reason why a book is read may make a great difference; we further admit that a book which ,nay disturb unmarried people tnay not disturb the married. Bus it still seems to be true that whether Lawrence is a great writer or not. and whatever his intentions may have been, "Lady, Chatterley's Lover" comes, technically. within the class of impure hooks. If not, why all the exciternent?-11,DITOR,