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This article is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

A Word of Apology C.H. Sisson

THE POLITICS expressed or implied in my writings have been the subject of so much misunderstanding-some of it, one must suppose, wilful-that I think I should try to set down at least what they do not amount to. The materials for a positive understanding of what I have said are to hand in The Avoidance of Literature and The Spirit of British Administration. It would be something if here one could remove a few of the confusions current among those who irrtpute to me attitudes and designs which are unlike any I ever took or entertained.

An initial difficulty is the sense of the word politics. In terms of the policies most loudly discussed and disputed about-the matter of party programmes and the like-I have nothing directly to offer. The concern which has permeated so much of my writing, and given it such political content as it has, is for something different. It is a long-standing obsession with the res publica. What attitudes towards it promise least damage to the things I most care for? If that seems too personal a question, in relation to so large a subject, one can only ask what other question anyone can ask. One difficulty of an enquiry on this basis is that one cannot enumerate the things one does most care for. To attempt to do so at all one would have to have more faith than I have in the capacity of half-a-dozen much talked-of abstractions.

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