20 October

20 October 1920

Villa Isola Bella Menton, France

The paper has come - I think the paragraphs are an extraordinary improvement. They ‘catch hold' of the reader, they draw him in. The frigidity which was a danger in the leader is gone. There's somehow a welcome touch in them as old Moult would say. Seriously Im sure they are right. I always miss a long review by you. I hunt down your initials first. Tomlinson's story was very good. It just missed it, though, at the end - I mean judging from the Tchekhov standpoint. The thing I prize admire and respect in his stories is his knowledge. They are true. I trust him. This is becoming most awfully important to me - a writer must have knowledge - he must make one feel the ground is firm beneath his feet. The vapourings I read - the gush - wind - Mrs Dawson Scott - give me a perfect sehnsucht for something hard to bite on. Darling, you know Im boulversé by the papers nowadays. I mean the Times Lit Sup. Their reviewing is a filthy scandal. Theres no other word. I mean they gave for instance Mrs D.S. a long review & talked of her ‘wisdom' took her seriously - didn't say a word about her real disgustingness & absurdity & then again - to find a firm like Duckworth publishing Jane Burr. Its a book for a rubber shop (mes excuses). Its a book about what she calls ‘bedroom talk'. Its not downright lewd of course, not decent bawdy but its a defence of female promiscuity by an hysterical underbred creature. I don't know whether its I that have ‘fallen behind' in this procession but truly the books I read nowadays astound me. Female writers discovering a freedom a frankness a licence to speak their hearts reveal themselves as - - sex maniacs. There's not a relationship between a man & woman that isn't the one sexual relationship - at its lowest. Intimacy is the sexual act. I am terribly ashamed to tell the truth; its a very horrible exposure. [Letter to J. M. Murry in Collected Letters 17 October 1920]