Letter to the Editor, Harper's Magazine
April 1999

RE: Gail Kern Paster's "The Sweet Swan"

Letters Editor
Harper's Magazine
666 Broadway, 11th Floor
New York, NY 10012

Dear Editor,

Give me a break. Gail Kern Paster's scholar babble is immediately headache-inducing. Her pedantic ranting is no excuse for a lack of research, evidence or effort. She begins her non-sense by adamantly proclaiming that the topic is not worthy of her and her exalted learning, yet proceeds nonetheless to charitably bestow upon us her musings on the matter. Please!

Paster's pathetic social commentary did little, if anything, to advance arguments on either side of the debate. Her "the poor are people too" effusion attests more to her "I pulled myself up by the boot straps and now I have to prove my worth with big words" origins than to any conclusions about the true source of some of the greatest works of English literature.

The Oxford proponents set down their arguments clearly and concisely without any pretension to an exalted ivory tower. For the sake of Harper's readership it would have been better if Paster had done likewise.

Moreover, after reading all the essays it seems as though Paster is leading a lost cause, almost as if she were standing alone holding up a crumbling stone wall yelling "Hold the fort! Hold the fort!" whilst the remains of this defeated bastion of scholarship lie strewn about her, having fallen long ago.