The translation of a letter by the author, published in Italy in February 2000, denouncing the scandalous silence that surrounded (and still surrounds) the epochal publication of the mock-heroic poem “Loud in War” in The Times Literary Supplement and Village Voice Literary Supplement.
Dear Aldo Rosselli,
as you know, my mock-heroic poem “Loud in War” has been, in all probability, the most widely publicized poem throughout the English-speaking world in the course of the last two years (about 450,000 copies among the various periodicals, including the Village Voice Literary Supplement (June 1998) and The Times Literary Supplement (18 September 1998), accompanied by the flattering epitaphs (“Formidable”, “Fascinating, provocative and playful” etc.) that some of the most highly respected literary authorities had used to describe it. … The curious fact, however, is that those printings (epochal if only because of their runs and circulation) have yet to be publicly commented upon in any manner by the literary world. At the cost of an arm and a leg, we filled several pages of two of the most renowned organs of the international intelligentsia with a manifestly greater number of words (about 7,000) than any poet, novelist, critic, scholar, journalist or advertiser had ever done in the entire history of those venerable reviews, and no one has even dared to squawk (although you have only to read the letters to the editors in any issue to know how peevish and punctilious their readers can be even in the face of a misplaced comma). Plainly, the reason the long poem was permitted to occupy so much room in such prestigious literary showcases is because all its papers were in perfect order, and the editors felt certain they could have defended themselves had anyone accused them of taking advantage of the patience or good taste of their readers. And yet, if there has ever been an example of how intellectuals prefer to play dumb in the face of phenomena that might cast doubt on their schemata and preconceptions, the silence that has surrounded those mammoth apparitions must surely rank among the most glaring, don’t you think? Not least because it cannot have escaped the attention of whomever read the author’s biographical note that he is not even anglophone by birth! Moreover, if one doesn’t hide from oneself the fact that, as Dryden put it, “A heroic poem … is undoubtedly the greatest work which the soul of man is capable to perform”, then such complete and perfect compliance on the part of the specialized audience cannot but prompt us to want to urinate in its derriere the next time round (so to speak).
Nail Chiodo – 1 February 2000
(translated from the text that appeared in Inchiostri, Jan.-Aug. 2000, Aldo Rosselli Editore, Rome)