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Simon should skip gratuitous gossip

Jeff Simon’s review on Sept. 22 of John Coetzee’s latest novel is an egregious example of journalistic irresponsibility. In that review, Simon makes the wholly irrelevant comment that “it is widely known that that writer got caught up in the fractious, faculty politics of the early ’70s and in order to evade them and avoid compromise, returned to South Africa.”

To the best of my knowledge, that “widely known” piece of history has no basis in fact. I was an active member of the English Department and a colleague of Coetzee’s during his tenure there, and never did I hear him complain about the “fractious, faculty politics.” Nor did he refer to departmental politics when he returned a number of years later as a visiting lecturer and joined my wife and me for dinner. The peddling of gratuitous gossip has no place in a reputable newspaper.

George R. Levine

Amherst