The Guardian reports that an almost novel-sized letter written by famed feminist writer Germaine Greer to novelist Martin Amis about their affair could be published in book form in the near future by Melbourne University Press.
Australian journalist and academic Margaret Simons discovered the notebook among the thousands of personal documents that Greer recently sold to the University of Melbourne in 2013. Titled The Long Letter to a Short Love, or… (an alternative title was never given), the first entry begins on March of 1976 as Greer was heading to Boston for a lecture. At the time, she was 37 and already famous for The Female Eunuch, whereas Amis, 26, was working as a journalist at the New Statesman and had just published his second novel, Dead Babies.
In the upcoming issue of literary journal, Meanjin, Simons writes about the “real literary worth” of the letter, describing it as “part love letter, part travelogue and part literary criticism” as well as “a fantastic window into the mid 1970s when people weren’t sure that the world wasn’t going to be destroyed by a nuclear war, when the cold war was dominant, when people were fighting for the right not to be married.”
What’s problematic is that Greer never intended for the notebook to be published for public view—the entire letter was never even sent to Amis and their affair was rarely publicly discussed. Additionally, Greer is concerned that the identifiable subjects discussed in the letters will be embarrassed by its contents. (Also, both writers are very much alive). Sally Heath, executive publisher at Melbourne University Press, said “While the university may not need her permission [to publish], if her consent counted for anything she felt it was important for people who were named that she had not given her consent.” In any case, the press will probably go forward with the publication, and will work with Greer to edit private information. Needless to say, access to the university archive with Greer’s private material has since been restricted.