Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Inbox of Delights

Magazine article New Statesman (1996)

Inbox of Delights

Article excerpt

The letters page. It's the heart of every print publication in the land, the place where readers come to applaud occasionally yet more often deride or correct. As the editor of our weekly Correspondence page, a happy Monday job, I take a deep breath before opening the email folder that contains the most recent missives. Among the spam and the promises of friendship in exchange for bank details are brutal takedowns, ferocious counter-arguments, earnest expressions of upset - often culminating in a generalised cry of despair: "What is the New Statesman coming to?"

Still, the letters keep coming. Some of you even seem to like the magazine. Some of you, I suspect, enjoy nothing better than fulminating at its contents. Happiness writes white, goes the cliche, and so people don't often express their joy at reading Alice Oswald on spiderwebs, but prefer to go to battle with David Blanchflower on austerity. Still, we are lucky here at the NS. Our readers write as well as they read - and so, choosing the letters, having to edit them so we can fit more in, is often an agonised process.

It was ever thus. A scan through the archive shows letters from John Maynard Keynes and F R Lewis, Leonard Woolf and Rebecca West. On 24 October 1936, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud and H G Wells (among others) signed a joint letter about a memorial for a friend. On 24 May 1958, Orson Welles wrote a long lament in response to the criticisms of his film Touch of Evil by "Mr Whitebait". …

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