Editor’s note: “The long, shining table: writers in Eastern Europe” by Hortense Calisher appeared in the January issue of The New Criterion. What follows is one of four observations on some of the issues raised in Miss Calisher’s essay.

Hortense Calisher is a sensitive observer, and she has given us a vivid impression of the literary politicking in the satellite countries. Here are the joustings for favor, the worried looks over the shoulder to see who may or may not be traveling precisely with the Party line, the knowledge that Big Brother in Moscow will have the final say. There would seem to be nothing enviable in the lot of these Balkan literati.

But suddenly, almost invisibly, there is a switch in Miss Calisher’s mood. Perhaps the situation of these people is in a way to be envied by American writers, who are without the protection of...


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