ANTHONY POWELL, ANTI-COMMUNIST
11:00 PM, Feb 18, 1996 • By ARNOLD BEICHMAN
What is so instructive, and infuriating, about Treglown's essay is his unwillingness to say anything about Powell's anti-Communist ideas -- as though such an admission would sully the name and reputation of a writer he admires. But it would be incredible, would it not, for a critic to discuss George Orwell purely as a literary critic and ignore Orwell the anti-Communist polemicist? Or to write about Tolstoy only as a military strategist?
In the 1960s in London, Powell and I were members of a Tuesday luncheon club created out of thin air in the 1960s by Robert Conquest, peerless scholar of the Stalin purges, and the late Kingsley Amis. We lunched weekly at a Charlotte St. restaurant called Bertorelli's and we prided ourselves on our politics, defined by the name of the club, The Reactionaries. Powell was a frequent attendee, enthusiastically participating in conversations about fellow-travelers, whether Tory or Labour, and other wafflers, or about some new Soviet trespass on human rights.
Now in his 90s, Powell deserves his due as a writer of enduring greatness. He does not deserve to have his passion for freedom and his enduring opposition to totalitarianism ignored by a supposedly admiring critic.
Arnold Beichman is a fellow of the Hoover Institution and the author of Anti-American Myths: Causes and Consequences, among other books.