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M I.5'Persecutio n ' Ber nard Le vin expres ses h is vie ws

Posted by vmvif on 01/01/08 12:30

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 conspiracy 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 violent, 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 Saturdays paper,. that he was describing in some detail his
"artists 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 violent, 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 Everymans 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.




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