In our age the business of literature has become as stalenand well-organized as the reports, memoranda, andnself-help books that comprise the literature of business. Thendays have long since past, when book-reading publishersnhired learned editors to put out magazines like The Nationnand The Atlantic or solicit original books for Scribner’s ornLitde, Brown. In our time vast conglomerates hire divisionnmanagers to supervise publishing operations and promotenthe latest efforts of the Collins sisters. If they are looking forn”quality,” they end up hiring a menagerie of schemers andnpoetasters who combine the literary taste of Alfred Kazinnwith the integrity of Gordon Lish.nWriters who make a living by running down the age theynhappen to live in — “the idiot who praises in enthusiasticntones every century but this and every country but hisnown” — have offered a variety of reasons for the decadencenof our national literature. The usual suspects include thendemocratization of taste, the tendency of the marketplace tonvulgarize everything it touches, the international Communist/Trilateralistnconspiracy, and the centralization ofnpower in New York in the hands of what Richard Kostelanetzn(in The Decline of Intelligent Writing) calls “then8/CHRONICLESnPERSPECTIVEnKazin and Caligula?nby Thomas Flemingn”Our literature is infested with a swarm ofnjust such httle people as this—creaturesnwho succeed in creating for themselves annabsolutely positive reputation, by merendint of the continuity and perpetuality ofntheir appeals to the public.”n— E.A. Poennnmob.” There is something to be said for each of thesenfantasies, but like all conspiracy theories they suffer from onencritical defect: they do not explain how an otherwise healthynorganism got taken over by parasites and traitors.nIt is a fine rabbinical technique to answer one question bynasking another: cui bono? who benefits from the corruption?nIn answering that one, we are led to consider the fundamentalnquestions of who gets what and how and why in thenliterature business — in other words, who’s in control. Beingnin control of anything means, essentially, the ability tonreward your friends and punish your enemies. In literarynterms, it is the power to patronize and its reflex, the power toncensor.nAny simple-minded economist could explain the relationshipnbetween censorship and patronage. Imagine ansociety that has, say, only a billion dollars to spend on thenwritten word. If the powers that be decide that $950 millionnwill be spent on Barbara Cartland novels and copies of ThenNew Republic, the chances of success for a serious novel ornan open-minded magazine are somewhat reduced. Ofncourse in a free market economy such a scenario would ben