World: The Word

The most modern of literary conventions, of fairly recent approval, permits sexual play or sexual passion to be described in lavish detail, in four-letter as well as polysyllabic words, in fiction. But a certain reticence and circumlocution, for obvious reasons, is still demanded in the public prints, on radio and on television. Last week British Critic Kenneth Tynan, who doubles as literary director of Britain's National Theater, decided to test that convention and found it still intact.

It happened on a BBC panel show, aired well past prime time, where the question of sexual explicitness in the theater was under discussion. With...

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