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This item is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

THIS is the last number of PN Review in which our names will appear as so-called editors. 'Editor' is a dignified title; it is a pity to lose it. On the other hand it can be a very misleading one. Both of us played a part in the establishment of the magazine in its present form. Neither of us has spent much time on what could be called editorial work; what we have done is to push some work in the direction of the General Editor who, in the office in Manchester, faced all the practical problems of the magazine and was at the same time building up a publishing house. We have contributed prose and verse and from time to time helped or hindered the General Editor with critical comment, mostly after the event. We shall continue to contribute, and to comment as any reader is free to do; we shall hope sometimes to put before the editor's eyes work by other people which we individually think is of importance; but we shall give up the pretence that we are part of a collective editorial mind or that we exercise anything like a decisive individual influence on the contents. And our démise will bring us the relief that we shall no longer have to write those editorials which have helped to sustain these illusions.

We had considered delivering ourselves of resounding parting messages. But no. If we have any to offer, they will be found in our respective books.

Both Donald Davie and C. H. Sisson, from the earliest issue of Poetry Nation, have reserved their best work for these pages-poetry, essays, reviews. Theirs has not been a patronizing commitment: they regarded PN Review as their magazine, and such authority as it has, such seriousness as it has, are rooted in this commitment of theirs. They set an example quite as much as a standard. The most fruitful debates grew from their disagreements.

Though it is sad to lose them from the masthead, I believe them when they assure us that they will stay by the magazine and that it is only their names that we lose.

I have worked more closely with them both than they perhaps appreciate. We did not all meet together for consultation very often-at most four or five times in eight years. Yet I have taken so many of my bearings from them that they have never been absent from my editing. I also called upon them, more frequently than they remember, for specific advice on actual manuscript submissions. They introduced new contributors to me. With a mixture of generosity and severity, even if generally 'after the event', they helped the magazine towards its present shape and scope.

Neither was ever entirely happy with PN Review. It has not lived up to their hopes, though it is perhaps better than they expected. I have been unable to locate the select, articulate English readership C. H. Sisson had in mind or the broad, responsive congregation Donald Davie hoped we could address. My own view is that the prose pages of a magazine of this nature must in the 1980s inform as well as criticize. For both Donald Davie and C. H. Sisson there has maybe been too much information, too much familiar ground covered again, and an unevenness in the criticism, an over-inclusive policy in the selection of poems.

Without the help of these friends and mentors, PN Review would not have survived into its second decade. I understate here a considerable personal debt which I trust they appreciate. Many of our readers will regret this denudation of the masthead and will want me to add their thanks to mine.

This item is taken from PN Review 37, Volume 10 Number 5, March - April 1984.

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