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Literature and Moral Purposes

It is tedious when a speaker begins by protesting modestly that he is inadequate to the task before him, or that he is the last person who should have been asked to discuss the theme of his address. We are apt to dismiss such wincing disclaimers as belonging to what Goldsmith called “the decorums . . . . Continue Reading »

Talking About Writing

Conversations with Tom Wolfe edited by dorothy scura university press of mississippi, 296 pages, $29.95  Conversations with John Gardner edited by allan chavkin university press of mississippi, 310 pages, $29.95Because Tom Wolfe is a celebrity, there is every reason for him to agree to as many . . . . Continue Reading »

Solzhenitsyn and Modern Literature

For the advanced writer of our time, Diana Trilling wrote twenty-five years ago in “The Moral Radicalism of Norman Mailer,” “the self is his supreme, even sole referent.” The specifically American literary history of this immoralism, moral anarchism, or relativization has been remarked or . . . . Continue Reading »

A Man of Contradictions

Kazantzakis: Politics of the Spirit by peter bien princeton university press, 318 pages, $29.95  By the time he died in 1957, the Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis had established himself as one of the major literary figures of the twentieth century. His extension of the Homerian epic. The . . . . Continue Reading »

Editorial: Democracy and Obscenity

The nation braces itself for yet another round of moral indignation against moral indignation. The first indignation is that of publishers, booksellers, and sundry civil libertarians in a state of alarm about the second group of indignants who are doing battle against smut. The first indignants howl . . . . Continue Reading »

The Transcendent in the Mundane

Ordinary Time by a. g. mojtabai doubleday, 223 pages, $17.95  A.G. Mojtabai’s nonfiction work, Blessed Assurance, won the 1986 Lillian Smith Award for the best book about the American South. Now, in her fifth novel, Ordinary Time, in prose as clean and spare as the landscape which is its . . . . Continue Reading »

Glimpsing the Transcendent

Real Presencesby george steiner university of chicago press, 236 pages, $19.95  Of the major literary critics of our period there is, apart from Northrop Frye, but one other whose work requires us to reach toward such a term as “greatness,” and this is George Steiner. The shocking . . . . Continue Reading »

Graham Greene as Moralist

Trust the tale and not the teller.d. h. lawrence How can one tell the dancer from the dance?w. b. yeats Graham Greene is a marvel. As long ago as 1966, on the publication of The Comedians, Evelyn Waugh could write: “What staying power you have. It might have been written thirty years ago and . . . . Continue Reading »

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