One of many literary mysteries hushed up over past decades which should now be brought to light is the firing of Harper's Editor Lewis Lapham in 1981. (He was brought back in 1983.)
The firing happened shortly after a two-part article ran in the magazine, written by a "Bryan F. Griffin," entitled, "Panic Among the Philistines."
When I was producing my notorious newsletter in the 90's, New Philistine, someone brought the old Griffin article to my attention. (While we both criticized the lit world, our criticisms came from opposite directions, and we used the "philistine" word in different ways.)
Griffin's article came from a conservative, upper-class direction, knocking writers like Updike and John Cheever, of all people, for their vulgarity and the crassness of their writing. Griffin, in fact, went after nearly every prominent writer of the day. (Most of which are still writing, unfortunately. They were no good then, even less so now.) I looked up the two-part article in a university library. It made for an interesting read-- as did the aftermath.
Amid the outrage, speculation was rampant that Bryan F. Griffin was a pseudonym. Suspects ranged from regular Harper's contributor Tom Wolfe (but why would that egomaniac hide his identity?) to Hilton Kramer to Lewis Lapham himself. Shortly after, Lapham was fired.
In 1994, after having been embroiled in another literary detective story, I looked into the Bryan F. Griffin matter. I could find no evidence of Griffin's work other than the Harper's article, and a later book based on it, published by Regnery in 1983. I wrote Regnery requesting contact info for Mr. Griffin, but never received a reply.
While believed to be a liberal, in the early days of his eternal stint at Harper's Lewis Lapham published many articles which were culturally conservative. A couple interesting points to add context to the puzzle:
-Lapham took great offense at Willie Morris's memoir of literary life in New York, without being specific about what in the Morris book offended him. (Morris was Lapham's predecessor as Harper's Editor.) The Griffin essay incidentally went after several of Morris's friends.
-When the conservative arts journal New Criterion was being planned (the early 80's?), Lewis Lapham was offered the job as Editor, for an alleged $200,000 a year. Did they know something about him which we don't?
I'll speculate that someone at New Criterion today still knows people at Regnery, and knows the identity of the mysterious Bryan F. Griffin, who has dropped off the face of the earth.