Books: P.E.N. Purge

The world's most exalted literary club met in London last fortnight 1) to assert the dignity and responsibility of writers in a threatened civilization, 2) to oust its distinguished president, Jules Romains. It was the most exciting congress the P.E.N. (Playwrights, Poets, Essayists, Editors, Novelists) Club has ever had, and the most ominous. For beyond the sound & fury there could be vaguely glimpsed the chasm of Anglo-French antagonism.

P.E.N. congresses sometimes resemble a lunch-hour stampede of Hollywood extras in makeup. Courtly, white-haired biographers are juxtaposed with cigar-smoking lady novelists who look...

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