1. 2 May 1967
Dear Alan Walker,
I expect the work on aesthetics I mentioned at our lunch the other day (perhaps I may ay again how agreeable I found that occasion?) was Collingwood's The Principles of Art, most conveniently to be had as an Oxford paperback. In particular his pp. 77 and 126 et seq are designed to make the Freudian aesthetician's flesh creep.
You will find the literary man's answer to Freud, in case you have not already come across it, in Wellek and Warren, Theory of Literature, 1949. They point out that his theory of art, such as it is, "fails to recognise that creation is itself a mode of work in the outer world; that, while the day-dreamer is content to dream of writing his dreams, one who is actually writing is engaged in an act of externalisation and of adjustment to society." There may of course be some very telling rejoinder to this to be made on Freud's behalf, but I have never seen one, and cannot imagine what it might be. (In taking that view I am assuming that your own theory did not start out as a justification of Freud) Incidentally I'd be most interested to know what consideration prompted you to omit, from your quotation on pp. 92-93, what I take to be the essence of his view of the origins of the artistic impulse – namely that the ends which the artist (?consciously) seeks to attain are gratitude, admiration, honour, power, riches, fame, and the love of women.
Perhaps that seemed too fearless and trenchant an
I wonder if I might ask you a couple more things while I am about it. I expect I shall be able to get down to reviewing your very interesting book some time this month (the time-lag is partly due to other commitments, but mainly because what you say is so far-reaching that I find myself having to do a lot of background reading ); soI'll be glad to avail myself of your kind offer to let me see some copy correspondence between yourself and your critics.
Finally, do you remember telling me at lunch about a point which I was to treat in confidence and not mention in the review? I should hate you to think that I had disregarded an undertaking; but I'm having to run that risk at the moment for the reason that I can't for the life of me recall what the point actually was. Perhaps that shows that I wasn't very surprised by it, even already aware of it; or perhaps an unconscious desire to use the argument against you has caused me to repress it? Either way, it would be a help if you could remember, if it isn't too much trouble.
Yours Eric Sams