Books: At the Pillars of Hercules: Foreword |
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For this second collection of my critical essays I am once again in-debted to the editors and literary editors of various publications. I should like to thank Arthur Crook of the T.L.S.; John Gross of the T.L.S. and earlier of the New Statesman; John Sturrock of the T.L.S.; Claire Tomalin and Martin Amis of the New Statesman; Anthony Thwaite of Encounter; and Donald Trelford, Terence Kilmartin and Miriam Gross of the Observer. For their generosity and patience in editing my prose at long range, particular thanks must go to Norman Podhoretz of Commentary and Robert Silvers of the New York Review of Books.

In addition, I am grateful to Miriam Gross for commissioning the article on Raymond Chandler for her anthology The World of Raymond Chandler and to John Wain for inviting me to return to the inexhaustible subject of Edmund Wilson.

One debt of thanks remains: that to Ian Hamilton of The New Review, for his editing, companionship and advice. I only wish that the dedication of this book to him were sufficient acknowledgement. If my first book of essays, combatively dubbed The Metropolitan Critic, had a defiant stance, this second one should proclaim a decent modesty even in its title. And in fact it does. For the educated public the Pillars of Hercules might be the Mediterranean gate beyond which it was fatal to sail, but for the London literati—a less romantic breed—the name must always evoke a certain pub in Greek Street, Soho. It is a place the reverse of glorious, reflecting the original legend only in the sense that many a writer, having once entered its doors, gets no further that day. So any heroic overtones seemingly given off by my title page are in the ear of the reader. The writer remains a hard-bitten realist, he likes to think.