A LIBRARIAN trying to make up his mind about the rôle of books, information, and culture in the modern world could do a lot worse than read A J Ayer's recent autobiography, Part of my life. Ayer's wide culture is unforcedly apparent. He grew up in a milieu in which learning the classics and composing Latin verses at Eton were the most natural things in the world: to that extent, he belongs to the world of C S Lewis, with whom he was later to clash at Oxford. His favourite authors range from Dickens, through Yeats, to e e cummings (a lifelong friend); and through people like Cyril Connolly he built up the right connections in Bloomsbury. His logical positivism placed him in touch with the current scientific ethos, and his eager appreciation of facts, of information, placed him in good stead during the war, when he was in military intelligence. In a sense, there can be little worth knowing that Professor Ayer does not know (and, of course, few people worth knowing).
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