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This article is taken from PN Review 244, Volume 45 Number 2, November - December 2018.

on Toby Martinez de las Rivas Henry King
On Toby Martinez de las Rivas and Dave Coates

BECAUSE ONE OF THE THINGS I admire about the reviews Dave Coates posts on his blog is how scrupulously he acknowledges his personal connections, let me start by explaining that I don’t know him, but I do know Toby Martinez de las Rivas. Not intimately: we’ve never met, only exchanged a few emails; I approached him to write an essay for the centenary celebration of C. H. Sisson in PNR 217, and I chose to place his contribution first in that feature. So when Coates draws on that essay to attack Martinez de las Rivas (‘On the Pale Sun of Toby Martinez de las Rivas’,, 13 September 2018), I have a stake in mounting a defence. But if that doesn’t put me beyond the pale, I want to argue two things: firstly, that Coates is wrong about Martinez de las Rivas and Black Sun being fascist; secondly, and in a way more importantly, that Coates is wrong about argument. But before getting to the detail of Coates’s attack, let’s note some prima facie evidence. Back in 2009 when his Faber New Poets pamphlet came out, Martinez de las Rivas was described as living ‘in Gateshead where he teaches English to asylum seekers and refugees’. A cunning disguise for a fascist intent on ‘erasing the poor and outcast’! Coates seems unaware of, or simply ignores, such facts.

Coming to the essay, the problem is that Coates consistently reads into Martinez de las Rivas’s words the most nefarious possible meanings. When ...

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