CONCERT IN THE PARKnby Andrei NavwzovnLike most, that sound was infusednWith darkness as with tea leaves,nAbsorbed, like some amazing news,nBy the still night’s Darjeeling.nIt crumbled like a sugar cube.nDissolving, sweetly tentative.nIn the warm summer that imbuednThe cupped yet rimless entity.nI mean the night. So keen its eye,nIts ear such tones of azure.nThat both the sound and the sightnSeemed one and numb with pleasure.nAs midnight broke its own spellnThe dark went on infusingnWith stillness that unearthly shell.nWith melting pearl, that music.n46 / CHRONICLESnbers of his club, that is to say, by hisnmilieu.nAs in all social and cultural matters,nin the domain of literature (our present’nconcern) the open-minded likes andndislikes of the philistine’s milieu arenforever in flux, undergoing perpetualnrevision and transformation in reactionnto the changing habits of societynas a whole and in response to thosenscattered individuals whose achievement,noften belatedly or posthumously,ninvariably asserts itself as the onenand only true criterion by which ancreative epoch is measured. By thenturn of the century, at least in Russia,nno poem was thought to be truly elegantnif the nightingale failed to put innan appearance somewhere in the thirdnstanza; by the 1920’s, it took the superhumannoriginality of divine Pasternaknto restore the little creature to thenpoetic vocabulary (just about everyonenelse was writing about radium). In thenUnited States today, the nightingalenseems to have been replaced by phenomenanwhich, for the sake of precisionnif not modesty, must be describednas netheromphalic, and once againn.superhuman courage is needed to seeknout the prose of an Anthony Powell ornthe verse of a Philip Larkin.nThe philistine rides high in thenpages of London Reviews. In his “Introductionnto the London Review ofnBooks,” the lead piece in this collectionnanthologizing the paper’s achievementsnof the last three years, editornKarl Miller sets the stage for the orgy ofnopen-mindedness that is to follow:nI remember a remark whichncame at this early point fromnRobert Silvers, editor of thenNew York Review, to. the effectnthat he saw himself as givingnpeople the chance to have theirnsay.nThis remark made a vivid impressionnon Mr. Miller, whose paper was set upnwith money from the New York Review,nand he agreed with it. He, KarlnMiller, would follow the example ofnhis American friend Bob Silvers andngive people the chance to have theirnsay. There is, however, a danger innthis sort of compassionate, liberal attitude:nNot only will people take advantagenof you, they will think you anMilquetoast besides. Mr. Miller sensesnthat an intellectual, while being openminded,nmust hold his own, and henhastens to qualify his position:nNow that people seemed to benhaving trouble in reachingnagreement, there might be anmerit in publishing theirndebates. I need hardly add thatnthe commitment to hospitalitynand diversity was a long waynfrom boundless. I am talkingnabout a fairly small matter ofndegree.nIndeed he is, although he does notnhear himself But let us listen to then”debates” themselves.nThe political debates oiLondon Reviewsnreflect without exception thentrivial politics of the American left,nparochialized ad absurdum (at leastnfrom the American vantage point) tonfit the creaky cradle of democracy.nThe anthology opens with Peter Pulzer’snessay on “The Oxford Vote”; thatnis, “the vote on 29 January by Congregationnof Oxford University, by 738nvotes to 319, not to award an HonorarynDoctorate of Civil Law to the PrimenMinister.” The politician is bad; shentakes bread from orphans and gives thenrich hydrogen bombs which they cannnnuse against defenseless seals while factoriesnare closing and Reagan playsnRussian roulette with our children’snfuture; Oxford University is good, becausenit voted, by a majority voten(unlike, one thinks, the British nationnelecting its Prime Minister), not tonhonor the bad politician. Oxford’sncourage is slight by American standards;nhere, Jeane Kirkpatrick is notneven allowed to speak on campus,nwhile the hecklers get to wear prettynarmbands and spit on the universitynpresident’s doorstep.nIn the sphere of literary criticism,nMr. Miller’s debates are equally broad.nTake deconstruction, for instance, ancritical phenomenon to which his periodicalnseems rather devoted. Here isnthe opening sentence of “Derrida’snAxioms,” by E.D. Hirsch Jr., a reviewnof Jonathan Culler’s On Deconstruction:n”Deconstruction . . . must benjudged, simply by virtue of the commentarynit has generated, an importantncultural phenomenon.” Had thisnsentence been antecedent to Mr.nHirsch’s discussion of the AbominablenSnowman, I daresay all would be well;nbut why should an intellectual judgensomething an important cultural phenomenonnsimply by the virtue of thencommentary it has generated?nDeconstruction, from the very beginningnbut especially in its presentn”movement” form, is the great boldninitiative on the part of American “IvynLeague” literary academics to redistribute,nand thereby expropriate andnappropriate, the intellectual wealth ofnpast generations by a kind of tweedyngrave-robbing. Their motive is a thief’snmotive (property being, Proudhon’snslogan notwithstanding, much less likentheft than theft), and I have the distinctnfeeling Mr. Hirsch suspects thisnwhen he insists throughout his reviewnthat—Hello, Mr. Miller!—“intellectualnculture thrives upon debate”; thatnis to say, that his detailed review of thenthieves’ rhetoric is undertaken by himnpurely in the interest of scholarshipn