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Need Writers Be Well-rounded?

July 23, 1989

Katherine Forrest was off the mark in her criticism of May Sarton's "The Education of Harriet Hatfield" (Book Review, July 9). She complains that Hatfield has been unaware of basic women's issues "despite" the fact that her companion of 30 years, now dead, was editor and owner of a small publishing house. Can we fail to recognize that we are all together in this amazingly diverse world? We know much, are unaware of a great deal more.

For starters, I doubt that I am alone in my ignorance of the Middle Ages, or of astrophysics. Why need we assume that Hatfield should have expertise in feminism, under the circumstances? I would wonder if every wife or companion of a surgeon, for example, is knowledgeable of the complexities and post-operative complications of a colostomy? Or, of an attorney, the infinite ramifications of tort law? This seems a trite criticism.

And, no, Ms. Forrest, if my brother were finally and desperately able to discuss his homosexuality with me, I would not then lecture him on the perils of AIDS. Of course it would be a concern. I would doubt that he did not know . . . but even so, then?

I (reluctantly) agree that this is not the finest of Sarton's works. It is still of value. And a good read.

BARBARA L. SAX

PALOS VERDES

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