Quote, unquote

September 24, 2009

In an item on the celebratory 25th birthday issue of Wasafiri ("Worthy traveller: publication that reshaped the landscape turns silver", 17 September), an article of mine in the birthday issue was truncated and misquoted. In your piece, I am quoted as follows: "Praising Wasafiri for its ability to reinvent itself every time it has come under fire as 'an over-subsidised sop to multiculturalism', (Professor Fraser) adds that it is a magazine 'staffed by beautiful and energetic women ... the sex of the mind'."

As one who has served on the magazine's editorial board since its inception in 1984, may I reproduce what the printed passage actually says? After praising the exposure given in its columns to the late Zimbabwean genius Yvonne Vera, I go on to remark: "No sooner ... has The Times Literary Supplement dismissed it yet again as an over-subsidised sop to multiculturalism, than we turn round and do something quite surprising: provide quantitative analyses of the book trade, translate stuff from the Chinese or unearth an unknown talent from Scotland. This is as it should be, since complacency is the enemy of the intellect, and the magazine remains mental as well as erotic. It is staffed by energetic women. Wasafiri is the sex of the mind."

Your rewording, in conjunction with the running-on of two separate sentences, distorts the sense of the end of the paragraph. I am extending my tribute to Vera by acknowledging the contribution made to Wasafiri over the years by many people, but especially women whose "energy" I applaud. The concluding sentence alludes to the journal, not its staff.

Robert Fraser, department of English, The Open University.

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