Books: Mad Dogs and Blithe Spirits

THE NOËL COWARD DIARIES

Edited by Graham Payn and Sheridan Morley

Little, Brown; 698 pages; $22.50

Approaching 62 and suffering from one of his recurring periods of unpopularity, Noël Coward sat down for a heart-to-heart with the wisest man he knew. "I don't care for the present trends either in literature or the theater," he confessed. "Pornography bores me. Squalor disgusts me. Garishness, vulgarity and commonness of mind offend me." Was it possible, he asked, that he was out of touch with the new decade of the '60s?

The answer was a resounding no, and...

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