Only a writer of genuine talent could have produced works as deeply bad as these. Their fetid atmosphere of moral panic and clammy religiosity may seem hardly credible to those who have not read them. The boys are stalked by fearful spiritual perils, signalled in language so impenetrable that the best-brought-up child must have had trouble understanding it.Clearly finding the issue difficult to approach, Farrar's most direct comment on the issue of lascivious talk and its result lies in the assurance that: 'I hurry over a part of my subject inconceivably painful; I hurry over it, but if I am to perform my self-imposed duty of giving a true picture of what school life sometimes is, I must not pass it by altogether.' He then passes it by altogether. Nonetheless the original edition of the story contained unabashed references to one friend sitting on another's knee, as well as notably emotional expression between the saintly Russell and the eponymous Eric. According to the editor of the latest, 21st C edition, Farrar felt obliged to make about 200 changes in subsequent editions, many of them toning down the arguably erotic content.
'Good heavens!' said the Reverend John absently. It was some years [emphasis added] before Beetle perceived that this was rather a tribute to innocence than observation. The long, light, blindless dormitories, devoid of inner doors, were crossed at all hours of the night by masters visiting one another; for bachelors sit up later than married folk. Beetle had never dreamed that there might ba purpose in this steady policing.It is in this story that the three friends agree to save a younger boy from being bullied, but in answer to the suggestion of making him a study fag, M'Turk answers decisively, 'we ain't goin' to have any beastly Erickin', with the physical contact and sentimental expression of feeling this implies.