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One of the Guardian Unlimited Books' top 10 literary blogs: "A home-grown treasure ... smart, serious analysis"

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Tuesday 03 April 2007

Mendacious or idiotic?

Over time, Stephen Mitchelmore has proved himself to be what I've called him before: the finest writer we have in the literary blogosphere. Those who read his This Space blog are regularly treated to the most thoughtful meditations on literature and its troubled meanings. On Saturday, in the Guardian's From the Blogs column, Richard Lea misrepresented Stephen quite outrageously. Lea quoted a post disparaging Ian McEwan, allying it with a positive comment about McEwan from Book Dwarf, thus reversing Steve's negative appraisal. Either this was mendacious or idiotic on the part of Richard Lea. And I'd like him to tell us which it was: can he not read properly or was he being dishonest? It is surely one of the two. I know his colleagues at the Guardian read this blog, and I've regularly corresponded with Sarah Crown who usually composes From the Blogs. So, if Lea doesn't read this, she can pass the message on to him. I await his response.

Update: Richard Lea is away on holiday, but his colleague Sarah Crown has replied both to me personally and in the comments (below).

Posted by Mark Thwaite
Tags: ,

Reader Comments

Tuesday 03 April 2007

Sarah Crown says...

Hey Mark - I've sent you an email on this, but to explain to readers .. Richard's away on holiday until Thursday but will no doubt be on to respond then. In his absence, I'd say that I'm absolutely sure he had no intention of misrepresenting Stephen. Richard quoted the first line of Stephen's post in full - and as such Stephen's "breathless" can be misread as enthusiastic rather than ironic, but I think this is a case of incautious cutting, not dishonesty.

A lesson well-learned for us, though - it's important to remember that while we see the posts in full, readers of the paper only get to see what we've extracted. Apologies to Stephen for any upset caused.

Tuesday 03 April 2007

Mark says...

Thanks for this comment Sarah. Very much appreciated.

Tuesday 03 April 2007

Stephen Mitchelmore says...

Thanks Mark, and Sarah for the apology. I was more bemused than offended. I can only hope some readers went to the blog to read the context of my remark.

Thursday 05 April 2007

Richard Lea says...

Hello all. Just to confirm that cutting was to blame for any misunderstanding. When I filed the piece I also included Stephen’s judgment that the extract is “cruel, prurient, patronising, glutinous and smug”. I guess the idea behind the cut was that the irony of Stephen’s “breathless enthusiasm” would shine through.

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Squire nagged and bullied till I went to fight,
(Under Lord Derby’s Scheme). I died in hell—
(They called it Passchendaele). My wound was slight,
And I was hobbling back; and then a shell
Burst slick upon the duck-boards: so I fell
Into the bottomless mud, and lost the light.

At sermon-time, while Squire is in his pew,
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The Dord, the Diglot, and an Avocado or two

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