This biography was written with an agenda, with the clear aim of sullying the memory and works of James McAuley. For a comprehensive review of this bo...moreThis biography was written with an agenda, with the clear aim of sullying the memory and works of James McAuley. For a comprehensive review of this book see below.
'It is the book's basic theme that stretches the limits of triviality. McAuley was a committed opponent of communism. Therefore he must have been sick in the head. This is because he repressed his sexuality, especially his homosexuality, or displaced in on to the Devil. (Hence the book's title.) It explains all his peculiarities, from his nightmares to his politics.
You mount this case against McAuley by following a few simple rules. First, forget about Stalin's and Mao's killing of millions or their murderous persecution of writers and artists.Instead, change the subject to sex.
Second, collect gossip from rivals, enemies, old friends. Call it oral history and quote it freely, no matter how silly, mean or plain wrong it may be. An improbable quotation may help. For example, when advising us of an alleged `sexual encounter' between McAuley and Amy Witting 60 years ago, Pybus tells us that McAuley humiliated Witting in a poem published `for all to read' in Hermes. I do not recognise the words of the poem as quoted and am certain that no such poem exists. (It assuredly never appeared in Hermes.)
Third, if evidence is lacking for any calumny, just say it `possibly' or `presumably' or `probably' or `doubtless' or `may have been' or `must have been' this or that. If hearsay, add: `Maybe this anecdote is true'. If utterly unbelievable, call it a `story' and stick in a note saying you are unable to confirm or deny it.
Fourth, spray the text with such adjectives as "vicious", "strident:", "arrogant", "tainted", "impudent" and "fanatical". If religion rears its ugly head, have McAuley "grovelling".
Fifth, ignore his major work, his heart-rending poetry, unless you can twist it into evidence for the prosecution. It helps if, like Pybus, you have no feel for poetry, poetics or literary history.''