The Times Literary Supplement's NB column on the back page of each issue is a light dessert at the end of a heavy meal.
For years, a witty and learned writer who called himself J.C. penned the column, presumably named after the Latin term Nota Bene.
J.C. in his Sept. 18 column delivered the melancholy news that it would be his last.
In saying farewell, J.C. revealed that he is James Campbell, the Scottish author of several books including a biography of James Baldwin and a study of Beat writers.
Campbell didn't give a reason for his leaving. NB continues under a different writer with the initials M.C.
A gem of British stylishness, J.C.'s column was like a letter from a brilliant friend. J.C. reported on his "perambulations" to find rare books at quirky bookstores, and gave attention to obscure literary publications such as a quarterly devoted to Victorian novelist George Gissing.
He also carried out jests like the imaginary TLS stylebook for freelancers, giving valuable writing lessons along the way, and satirized literary prizes and academic writing.
Another amusing feature was his contests, such as asking readers for TLS references in literature.
Campbell's exit follows the recent naming of Martin Ivens as TLS' editor to replace Stig Abell, who in a brief period made over the venerable review's layout. With a few typographical glitches and shorter reviews, the literary quality remained high under Abell, who also added book excerpts to the editorial mix, and tightened the letters page.
J.C.'s leaving is the first move of Ivens' first few weeks on the job.
In recent columns, J.C. spoke out against literary censorship stemming from racial and gender sensitivities. He criticized Poetry magazine for firing its editor for publishing a poem that blacks found objectionable. Whether J.C.'s unfashionable opinions led to his ouster has not been reported.
We hope that Campbell's happy perambulations continue, and that his writing again appears in the TLS and other publications.