>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
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 Saturday’s paper, that he was describing in some. detail his
"artist’s 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
In the final paragraph of this extract, his reference to Everyman’s. 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.