(one wonders how he would approach,nfor instance, StaHn’s contribution tonthe study of Hnguistics), and is not tonbe taken for a fellow traveler’s Bonnvoyage! In a word, he has an opennmind. Perhaps not as open as hisneditor’s: Mr. Miller opines in his “hitroduction”nthat “it is probable that thenmonuments assailed by Deconstruction—thenliterary text, the literary tradition,nauthorship—will . . . survive.nBut that is not to say . . . that thenexciting work of destruction will haenbeen wholly in vain.” Yet Mr. Hirschnpossesses a mind open enough, itnwould seem, to get him into the pagesnof the London Reviews.nIn the purely literary sphere, wherenthe open mind reigns supreme, therenare some exceptions here, most notabl’nIan Hamilton’s “Diary” excerpt innwhich Doris Lessing, in her prizewinningnrole as Jane Sommers, is saxaged,ncooly and merrih’. But Mr.nHamilton is hardly a member of Mr.nMiller’s club, haing come into hisnown as he had in the pages of angenuinely pluralistic (read: bigoted)nBritish press and only later catapultedninto relative transadantic stardom withnhis book on Lowell. He is rather annHonorary Member (“We’ve got to getnthis guy in. So what, I don’t care if henis!”), whose achievements entitled himnto club membership on his own terms.nThat freedom, however, the privilegenof being part of a group from which henordinarily would be excluded, mav’nprove a gift that is easier to bestow thannto bear. This is relevant because Mr.nHamilton is the editor of an anthologynof his own.nThe New Review Anthology, thencover blurb tells us, “is, quite simply,na selection of the best in contemporarynwriting, both fiction and non-fiction,nand poetrv.” Advertisements like this,nquite simply, bode ill for the product,nand one is relieved to read the editor’sncalm, lucid, and unpretentious twopagenpreface in which not once doesnMr. Hamilton allude to the opennessnof his mind. In fact, on reading thenselections from The New Review,nwhich Mr. Hamilton edited from itsninception in 1974 to its passing inn1979, the reader is not disappointed.nOr, at the very least, the reader doesnnot scream with rage, as well henmay after buying a copy of LondonnReviews.nSince The New Review Anthologyncontains no literary criticism as suchn(unless Robert Lowell’s marvelous andnimportant memoir of John CrowenRansom is literary criticism), whilenLondon Reviews contains no fiction,ntheir editors’ relative sensitivity tonprose cannot be compared. (Mr. Millernmakes an appearance in Mr. Hamilton’sncollection in the guise of a writer,nalthough the sheer stratospheric innocuousnessnof his little sketch is of nonhelp in settling the issue, suggestingnonly that the editor “knows thenscore.”) What both anthologies doncontain is poetrv.nThe poetrv section in London Reviewsnbegins with Tony Harrison’sn”V.,” a sinister blend of epi-Larkiniannmatter-of-factness with virulentnAmerican-stvle obscenitv. Mr. Harrison’sn1975 Palladas: Poems (Anvil)ngave one hope, as old-timers used tonsay: to borrow a Pasternak metaphor,none could hear the anapest of Mr.nHarrison’s thought rummaging, like anmouse, in the bread-box of his writing.nThat sound is not heard in “V.”; it is ansoulless, concrete-and-corrugatedmetalngarage-like structure where passersbv-ndo not linger for fear of beingnraped. Other poems in the anthologynare slightly better, but some are a goodndeal worse; consider Fiona Pitt-nKethley’s “Sex Objects”:nI learned from a friend’s pornonmag that men can buy thenbetter class of plastic doll (poshnones are hard and unyielding,nnot the pneumatic sort that flynfrom windows when thev’renpricked), in slow installments,ntorso first.nIs this poetry? Journalism? Autobiography?nI just don’t know. But I do knownthat the editor of London Reviews hasnan open mind.nMr. Hamilton starts the poetry sectionnof his anthology with DouglasnDunn’s “The Tear.” I need only quotenone line of it, the very first line, setnapart:nDawn comes remembering thendawn, and vou.nPoetry? Yes. Original? Yes. Does Mr.nDunn “keep it up”? Read the remainingn27 lines, and you will find out. IsnMr. Dunn a Great Poet? That will benjudged bv history, but he is a poet mostnnnsurely. Other contributors to the poetrynsection are Robert Lowell, D.M.nThomas, Andrew Motion, A. Alvarez,nJames Fenton, Seamus Heaney, and anfew more “names,” along with severalnless audible voices (John Fuller, PeternPotter) that clearly deserve beingnheard; only D.M. Thomas’ “Lorea”nmay be said to approach Fiona Pitt-nKethley in awfulness, a screamingnblack stain on the surface of Mr. Hamilton’sntaste.nWhich brings us back to the questionnhinted at, if not asked outright,nearlier. Is Mr. Hamilton’s taste intact,nnow that he is an Honorarv Membernof the Philistines’ Dining and DancingnClub? Is his taste as pristine as it was andecade ago when his magazine wasnlaunched, or does it take a FionanPitt-Kethley or a volume of LondonnReviews to make it seem white byncomparison? And, if it is not white butngrav’, then just how gray is it? Onnreading the poetry and the prose Mr.nHamilton has chosen for his anthologyn(“Facing Backwards” by Beryl Bainbridge,n”The Beginning of an Idea” bv-nJohn McGahern, and “Down WithnDons,” John Carey’s thoughts onnMaurice Bowra and academic life,ncome to mind), I must confess that Inam amazed at how well Mr. Hamiltonnhas survived as a creative being amidnthe deafening noise of open-mindedntwaddle. No intellectual of his calibernwould have done half so well in America,nwhere the ruling academic establishmentnwould have aerosolled hisntaste black by the time he left college.nThis is in part a tribute to Mr. Hamilton’sntalent, but also, without doubt, angreat symbol of the genuine culturalnfreedom that still exists in Britain tonthe detriment of the “open mind.”nAndrei Navrozov is the editor of ThenYale Literary Magazine and the poetryneditor for Chronicles.nMGUST 1986 / 47n