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PN Review 276
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This item is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Letters THE RUSHDIE AFFAIR

Sir,
With due respect to Grevel Lindop (Reports, P·N·R 76) for his determination to be even-handed over the affair of The Satanic Verses, let's remind ourselves of exactly what has happened. A man has been sentenced to death for writing a novel, and he has been forced into hiding because a number of people here and elsewhere have openly expressed their support for the death sentence. It is fair enough to point to the devious actions and intemperate words of other people; but murderous intentions and speech-acts of incitement to murder are surely something different. No writer today who offends Christian sensitivities, or the sensitivities of 'authoritarian liberals', is thereby risking his life; and to lose sight of that fact is to risk falling into a lamentable trahison des clercs. The right to free expression has taken centuries to win, and we should be resolute and uncompromising in its defence. In the long run, moderates of all persuasions will thank us. Is it really self-righteous, or fanatical, to take up this position?
ALAN MASSEY
Windsor, Berks.

Correction

ALISON BRACKENBURY
The Queen's funeral*

Her own horse steps in violet silk.
Black velvet sighs upon her bier.
The Duchess' train is wide as Thames.
The clerks and diarists crowd near.

Later, too late, they find the note
Forbidding all show. As before,
A practical and honest soul,
She'd spend the money on the poor.

Snow whirls on mud. Each coffee shop,
Warm inn stands closed. Her heart's
  one friend -
Bound by custom, strange in grief -
The ruined King does not attend.

*This poem was published in P·N·R 74 where, inadvertently, the last line was omitted.

This item is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
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