In the course of a long article in these pages (“Who was Josephine Herbst?” September 1984), written on the occasion of Elinor Lander’s recently published biography, I raised certain questions about the role played in the life and work of Josephine Herbst by her steadfast loyalty to Stalinist causes. In my view, it was a loyalty that not only dominated and disfigured the bulk of her writings and the way she conducted her career—both in the period of its public success and in the period of its public failure—but also had a brutalizing effect on her personality and character. Precisely because I felt this political commitment to be so central to the life and work of Josie Herbst, I was dismayed to find that, although Elinor Langer had been extremely candid in facing up to almost every other aspect of her subject’s life in the biography she spent ten years writing, she had failed (as I saw it) to accord this loyalty to Stalinism the place it...


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