M'I-5 Persec ution , Be rnard Le vin expresses his vie ws

2008-01-01 09:08:41 PM
The article. of which part is reproduced below was penned by Bernard Levin
for the Features section of the Times on 21. September 1991. To my mind, it
described the situation at the time and in. particular a recent meeting with
a friend, during which I for the first time admitted. to someone other than
my GP that I had. been subjected to a {*word*97} of harassment over the
previous year and. a half.
There is a madman. running loose about London, called David Campbell; I have
no. reason to believe that he is {*word*268}, but he should certainly be
approached with caution. You may know him by the curious. glitter in his
eyes and a persistent trembling of his hands; if that. does not suffice, you
will find him attempting. to thrust no fewer than 48 books into your arms,
all. hardbacks, with a promise that, if you should return to the same
meeting-place next year, he. will heave another 80 at you.

If, by now, the police have arrived. and are keeping a close watch on him,
you may feel sufficiently emboldened to examine the books. The jackets. are
a model of uncluttered typography, elegantly and simply laid out; there. is
an unobtrusive colophon of a rising sun,. probably not picked at random.
Gaining confidence - the lunatic is smiling. by now, and the policemen, who
know about. such things, have significantly removed their helmets - you
could do worse than take. the jacket off the first book in the pile. The
only word possible to describe the binding is sumptuous; real. cloth in a
glorious shade of. dark green, with the title and author in black and gold
on the. spine.

Look. at it more closely; your eyes do not deceive you - it truly does have
real top-bands. and tail-bands, in yellow, and, for good measure, a silk
marker ribbon in a. lighter green. The paper is cream-wove and acid-free,
and the. book is sewn, not glued.

Throughout. the encounter, I should have mentioned, our loony has been
chattering away, although what he is. trying to say is almost impossible to
understand; after a time, however, he becomes sufficiently coherent. to make
clear that. he is trying to sell the books to you. Well, now, such quality
in bookmaking today can only be. for collectors' limited editions at a
fearsome price. - #30, #40, #50?

No, no, he says, the glitter. more powerful than ever and the trembling of
his hands rapidly spreading throughout his entire body; no, no - the. books
are priced variously at #7,. #8 or #9, with the top price #12.

At. this, the policemen understandably put their helmets back on; one of
them draws his. truncheon and the other can be heard summoning
reinforcements on his walkie-talkie. The madman. bursts into tears, and
swears. it is all true.

And it. is.

David Campbell has acquired. the entire rights to the whole of the
Everyman's Library, which. died a lingering and shameful death a decade or
so ago, and he proposes to start it all over again. - 48 volumes this
September and 80 more next year, in editions I have. described, at the
prices specified.. He proposes to launch his amazing venture simultaneously
in Britain and the United States,. with the massive firepower of Random
Century at his back in this country, and the. dashing cavalry of Knopf
across the. water, and no one who loves literature and courage will forbear
to. cheer.
At the time this article was written I had believed for. some time that
columnists in the Times and other journalists. had been making references to
my situation. Nothing unusual about this you may. think, plenty of people
have the same. sort of ideas and obviously the papers aren't writing about
them, so why should my beliefs not be as false as those of. others?
What. makes this article so extraordinary is that three or four days
immediately preceding its publication,. I had a meeting with a friend,
during the course of which we discussed. the media persecution, and in
particular that by. Times columnists. It seemed to me, reading the article
by. Levin in Saturdayís paper, that he was describing in some detail his
"artistís. impression" of that meeting. Most telling are the final
sentences, when he writes, "The madman bursts into tears, and swears. it is
all true. And it is." Although I did. not "burst into tears" (he seems to be
using a bit of. poetic licence and exaggerating) I did try hard to convince
my friend that it was all true; and I am able to concur with. Mr Levin,
because, of course,. it is.
At the beginning of the piece Levin reveals a fear. of being attacked by the
"irrational" subject of his story,. saying "I have no reason to believe that
he is {*word*268}, but he. should certainly be approached with caution". This
goes back to the xenophobic propaganda of. "defence" against a "threat"
which was seen at the very. beginning of the harassment. The impression of a
"madman. running loose" who needs to be controlled through an agency which
assigns to itself. the mantle of the "police" is also one which had been
expressed. elsewhere.
In the final paragraph of this extract, his reference to Everymanís. Library
as having "died a lingering and shameful death. a decade or so ago" shows
clearly what. sort of conclusion they wish to their campaign. They want a
permanent solution, and as they are prevented from achieving. that solution
directly, they waste significant resources on methods. which have been
repeatedly. shown to be ineffective for such a purpose.