To see a ham-and-egger like Henry James (Book Review, March 3) knocking geniuses such as Zola and Balzac is really too much.
JAMES C. PICCO
Author of Three
Please know that Ernesto Sabato (Book Review, March 3) is the author of three novels, to wit: "El Tunel" ("The Tunnel," 1948); "Sobre Heroes y Tumbas" (1961); "Abbadon el Exterminador" (1974).
Moreover, he was awarded the French Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger (Prize for Best Foreign Novel) for "Abbadon."
MARK J. CAMINITE
Correction duly noted. Of these, so far as we know, only the first two have been published in English translation and only the second is now in print in English: "On Heroes and Tombs," translated by Helen R. Lane (Godine: $17.95, 496 pp.).
\f7 Update on Anita Desai
Anita Desai is certainly of our finest contemporary writers. Still, the New York Times reviewer states that "In Custody" is Desai's third novel. Your reviewer tells us it is her fourth (March 24). Although favorable, both reviews are pretty poor. Let me list Anita Desai's novels for your edification:
"Cry, the Peacock" (London: Peter Owen, 1963); "Voices in the City" (London: Peter Owen, 1965); "Bye-Bye, Blackbird" (Delhi: Hind Pocket Books, 1971); "Where Shall We Go This Summer!" (Delhi: Vikas Publications, 1975); "Fire on the Mountain" (London: Heinemann, 1977); "Clear Light of Day" (New Delhi: Allied Publishers, Ltd., 1980); "In Custody" (London: Heinemann, 1984).
For the record, Mrs. Desai has written many short stories. Some have been collected in a volume entitled "Games at Twilight." And she has written a children's book, "The Peacock's Garden."
A Wife's Courage
Regarding the review of Arkady N. Shevchenko's "Breaking With Moscow" (Book Review, March 10), I could not help but shudder at the context in which the implied murder of his wife was placed: "(She) was prevented from joining him in the West, drugged, taken back to Moscow and later declared a 'suicide.' What kind of personality, what order of courage is required to run such a risk?" After reading the article several times, I'm still convinced that the emphasis is being placed on Shevchenko's willingness to risk sacrificing his wife in order to "opt . . . for freedom at any cost." The cost, it seems, was hers; Shevchenko, being in the West already, did not face the immediate dangers that his wife did.
I would have appreciated a little acknowledgment of his wife's courage, as well as verification that she knew of his plans to defect. Human rights begin at home.
For an authorized biography of Letitia Innes Burke, I am interested in hearing from those who knew and worked with her from 1938 to 1952.
PROF. PATRICIA HUCKLE
Department of Women's Studies
San Diego State University
San Diego, Calif. 92182
Homosexuality in Venice
Diane Broughton's review of Guido Ruggiero's "The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality of Renaissance Venice" (March 10) was fascinating, but the conclusion she drew from this book was not only unwarranted--it was dangerous.
The punishment for homosexuality in Venice was truly horrible, but Broughton somehow treats homosexuality as a sex "crime" on a level with child molestation and rape. What is worse, though, is her assumption that Venice's prosecution of illegal sexual acts "kept marriage, honor, family and society intact against tremendous shattering forces."
Can a legitimate causal connection be made? Even if one could be, it is incredibly dangerous to suggest that, because "the votes aren't in yet on the survival of these institutions in our time and place," "a close look at Ruggiero's research might not be a bad idea." Jerry Falwell, H. L. Richardson, Jesse Helms and countless others would no doubt be glad to take such a close look and re-criminalize and punish homosexuality once and for all.
How can The Times Book Review provide the homophobic Far Right with such ready fuel for their eager fire?