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Directions in Contemporary Literature

To The Reader
1. Introduction Fear
2. The Sacrifice for Beauty George Santayana
3. A Return to Nature Gerhart Hauptmann
4. The Eternal Adolescent Andr Gide
5. Futility in Masquerade Luigi Pirandello
6. The Waters Under the Earth Marcel Proust
7. The New Tragedy Eugene O'Neill
8. The Conscience of India Rabindranath Tagore (vii)
9. Sight to the Blind Aldous Huxley
10. Go to the Ant Jules Romains
11. The Idol of the Tribe Mein Kampf
12. The Marxian Formula Mikhail Sholokhov
13. Faith of Our Fathers T. S. Eliot
14. The Promise and Blessing Thomas Mann
15. Till Hope Creates Conclusion
A Suggested Bibliography
Index (viii)


Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Wisconsin
A WORD must be said of appreciation to those who have aided me in this study. I would name
them, but they are too numerous. There are those who are associated with me in my academic
interests, and those who in one place or another have watched the genesis of the ideas that have
gone into these chapters. I must also acknowledge the aid I have received from the current
translations of some of the authors, especially Mann and Proust and Sholokhov. In most of the
other places the translations are my own. A word about the titles of foreign books: when the
English titles are well known I have used them without giving the originals. In other places
both are given when the books are first mentioned, and later the titles that seem most
appropriate. Where there is no English translation, the original is given with a translation if one
is desirable.
I wish to acknowledge the courtesy of the following publishers for permission to
reprint from books covered by copyright: Messrs. Henry Holt for a quotation from the poems
of A. E. Housman; Charles Scribner's Sons for numerous passages from the works of George
Santayana; the Viking Press, formerly Huebsch, for passages from the plays and novels of
Gerhart Hauptmann; the Modern Library for passages from Andr Gide Counterfeiters; E. P.
Dutton and Company for passages from Pirandello; Random House for passages from the
novels of Marcel Proust; Harpers for extracts from the works of Aldous Huxley; Knopf for
passages from the novels of Jules Romains, Mikhail Sholokhov, and(v)Thomas Mann;
Harcourt, Brace and Company for parts of the poems and prose of T. S. Eliot; Houghton
Mifflin & Co. for extracts from Hitler Mein Kampf; and the Macmillan Company for passages
from the works of Tagore. I am exceedingly grateful for these permissions.


THIS book was written during a vacation that took in most of the seven seas and all but one of
the continents. To tell where the chapters were written would reveal some of the most
interesting spots of the voyage, and in character the book may at first seem to resemble a
pilgrimage quite as varied and without plan. It covers a region of even wider scope, some of it
almost uncharted; in reality it was and is a far more interesting voyage, and a more dangerous
In the confusion of tongues that is our contemporary literature, it is not my adventure
to pick immortals. To play the prophet and attempt to foretell whose voices will remain and
whose already are on the way to the last silence is gratuitous folly. The danger is the greater in
that we are living in an age of such swift change that a revolution every night and a new skyline every morning have become almost a commonplace. How quickly a book dies that
yesterday promised to be something more than a best seller, its dust cover now its shroud. Yet
some there are, there must be, that will persist and go down as the inner autobiography of our
kaleidoscopic age.
To discover these is an adventure far more interesting and profitable, for it may offer
a clue to some interesting questions. Is there any pattern in our confusion of tongues? Can one
distinguish and define some of the main tendencies in the contemporary mind? Are there
expressed by some of the more typical of our writers today philosophies of life that may serve

P. M. B.
Madison, Wisconsin November 1941(vi)

as clues to and possible solutions of what some have called the 'contemporary problem'? Is it
possible to group the better-known authors of today into families of (ix) ideas, and then to
select the most typical of each of the families so that, understanding them, we might have the
clue to those that are of their kind? It was this interesting experiment that made a voyage to
lesser known regions in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans a double adventure of
A book like this is a gesture of bravado, a piece of academic bravura, one might say:
as though the author had assumed the mantle of prophecy, glanced with disinterested eyes at
the evidence, and pronounced sentence on the ideas that are making an age. Only posterity can
be enough disinterested to dare a judgment. There is more than a little truth in such a charge.
The book, with the best motives in the world, is both partial and arbitrary. No other attitude is
Even the authors selected are sometimes treated like reluctant witnesses, kept to a
single issue--what have they to say that is of unique and pertinent significance to the present
confusion. Of all their works--novels, dramas, essays--only those are selected that have a
special bearing on this burning question. These are not essays on Hauptmann, Gide, Mann, et
al., but on their several wrestlings with the adversary as he came upon them in the night and
offered no quarter. No, there have been books and essays aplenty that have had to do with the
work of each, the genesis and exodus of his literary life, and there is a bibliography in the
appendix for those who care to read further. Each of these, like Jacob of old, who, if any, lived
a life of miscellaneous irrelevance, had a vision; for one it was intermittent and brief, for
another periodic and long, a vision that gave pattern and meaning for them to the life of the
present. It is to record these visions and to comment, where comment might be helpful, that has
been the purpose of this book. In this way, perhaps, if in no other, this book is different.
It is different also in another particular. The authors, though contemporary, are not
treated solely as contemporaries, (x) but are seen, if this is possible, in the tradition of European
literature, where they will eventually belong. It should not be amiss, then, to talk about some of
their great predecessors, to note resemblances and contrasts. It is this effort at a larger
perspective, perhaps, that is the interest that was always closest to the theme of this book. This
ought to have at least one valuable lesson--human nature and the human problem are not so
kaleidoscopic as sometimes we are tempted to fancy.
There is one arbitrary omission that the reader, I hope, will understand and pardon. I
have, except where it seemed absolutely necessary, left out all details about the private life of
this author or that--interesting as these are to most readers. There seemed no room for a
compromise. I am far from denying either their value or their interest. To fail to mention the
vagaries of Gide's experience with sex, for example, is not because of any 'academic timidity.'
The academic mind has, I imagine, outgrown this. Rather it is my conviction that his ideas, as
those of all the others, are a ding an sich, and are good or irrelevant quite apart from the
author's personal habits or life. Literary criticism that indulges in back-stairs gossip is always
tending to obscure the real issue. There is a biography of ideas as well as one of people; this is
a biography of ideas. It is ideas that are helping today to make history. It is enough, for this
book, to attempt an understanding of their scope and significance.
This difference will answer friends who have insisted that I ought not overlook such
stalwarts as Hamson and Steinbeck, or Joyce, or Thomas Wolfe, or many others. Steinbeck,
with all his excellence and power to give eloquence to a class now foot-loose and a crying
scandal, is dated. His is a specific problem now very much in the mind of all who contribute to
or minister relief. His issues, important as they are, are partial, and affect first the economic life
and fortunes of the flotsam and jetsam, that are a disgrace to any self-respecting people. The
theme of this collection of studies is (xi) the large issues of the meaning of life, and its
panorama, not the Great Plains of America or the slums and factories of any one city, but life

today, and a renewal, if wisdom prevail, of its sweetness and zest, and light. Losing these, and
there are many who live in fear, what is there to which we can turn? So a number of most
excellent authors and books, but partial pleaders and concerned with secondary issues, had
perforce to be overlooked.
The exclusion of Knut Hamson had a motive that differed only slightly, and there
were many others not unlike him. Power, charm, enthusiasm, all this there is in his excellent
novels, and something more that is rare in these days of our disillusionment, a belief in the
fundamentally heroic in human nature. He is of the race of Vikings, a peasant Homer, not to be
daunted by toil or danger, though a Norwegian friend tells me that he does not know the sea
and its part in the life of Norway. Perhaps I should have included him for the reason,
extraordinary today, that he can see life on the soil but not down on all fours, narrow in routine
but not narrow in humanity, sordid in its daily task but steadfast in faith and courage. Of such
stuff are his heroes and heroines, universal and heroic human nature in Norwegian homespun.
Yet with all his excellence Hamson does not seem to belong in this collection. He is a
contemporary, but seems untouched by the chief contemporary problem. The issues that again
have divided the world are not in his books. Beside the bitterness and disillusion and growing
fear that is the story of the past twenty years, his villages and inns and fields have the aura of a
stoic Paradise, but a flaming sword seems to guard its gates. And there are many who cannot be
convinced that Paradise, even a stoic one, is not all a nostalgic dream. The sequel should
answer why some of the others were not included.
In this day when the crescendo of fear and discouragement of the past twenty years
seems no longer bearable, when malignant furies have torn off the mask and the issue (xii) for
humanity is in the balance, it is doubly pertinent that there be calm and disinterested
understanding. The hysteria of guns and torpedoes will have its day; but will the reawakening
of peace be any more fortunate than the armistice of November 1918, when one almost heard
the Angel's song? The answers to this question, and to many like it, have puzzled the thinkers
who are the theme of this book. Out of them perhaps the final answer will be selected. It should
be interesting to pass them in review, ponder and understand. But if it is to be an answer that
humanity can respect, it must also have respect for a full human nature. Anything short of this
will in its aftermath invite a repetition of tragedy.
How much toward such an answer may be revealed in the works of these authors?
Again, a very pertinent question. To attempt to set this forth in the most typical of our presentday novelists, essayists, or dramatists is a task that is something more than an academic
gesture, partial and arbitrary. It is the motive also of every intelligent reader. One word more,
and a personal one: a picture like this of the contemporary mind has, to me, one enormous
consequence. Rather than feeling oppressed by a sense of meaningless confusion, one comes
away--I came away--with a glow of respect and hope. Respect, because the best minds of the
age are at work at the practical and necessary task of understanding. Hope, because there can be
no hope unless there first be understanding.
Hope until hope creates, Out of its own wreck, the thing it contemplates. (xiii)


chanted in these two decades by millions. It is only a comment on the

vanity of human wishes that these high ideals have somehow
The same desire for security and freedom--now the one in the
spotlight, now the other--is the story of the more significant figures in
contemporary literature. If we may use the much despised word
'modernism,' most of it has been devoted to the quest of some motive
that can subdue fear or furnish some refuge from its clamor. For this
terror, this sense of insecurity, has been our ever-present guest since the
Great War shocked us out of a fancied trust in civilization and the
conviction that, in a world cushioned with all the comforts of science,
the banishment of brutality and evil was already an accomplished fact.
How remote that Victorian and Edwardian sense of security seems
now. China, Ethiopia, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and Finland; Norway,
Holland, Belgium, France, Yugoslavia and Greece--who will be next-have taught us the lesson. Odets, Steinbeck, Wolfe--to name only
American authors--are just another of its aspects. The veneer of
civilization today looks thin and fragile, and its blessings none too
secure, when overnight its resources can be used for destruction and
humanity can become the victim of its own ingenuity. 'What must we
have to keep us safe from fear?' The quest has become the most
important motive in life. To it have been devoted the best efforts of
statesmen and publicists, scientists and men of letters. The 'modernism'
of today, then, wears its novelty with a difference. The malady of fear
is more widespread, more openly (4) malignant, and more justified in
its fruits than at any time in the world's history.
It should be no wonder, then, that there is a seriousness in
contemporary literature that perhaps never before prevailed in the
literature of Europe. Superficially the change in purpose and attitude is
almost revolutionary. The old novelist or dramatist, no matter how
serious, felt himself obligated to entertain; he told a good story,
whether it was of an Alceste, a Don Juan, or a David Copperfield. If he
had a serious purpose it was well hidden by layers of sweetness and
interest. He was an entertainer before he was an evangelist. Even
Tolstoi and Dostoevsky at times almost forgot that literature has a
serious mission in life when they wrote Anna Karenina, and The


'What must we have to keep us safe from fear?'
Jules Romains, MEN OF GOOD WILL

IN AN early volume of Jules Romains Men of Good Will there is a

sentence that will awaken reverberations of memory in all who have
lived during the climax of crises that has been the story of the past
twenty years. The two youths Jerphanion and Jallez, one of them
Romains himself, are talking of the future, which even in the years
before the first Great War was none too hopeful. They are talking of the
future and some faith to which they can dedicate themselves: where can
they find a motive to which they can dedicate their throbbing lives?
'What must we have to keep us safe from fear?'
Safety from fear--is not this after all the motive behind every
projected new deal, whether it be the gospel of Fascism proclaimed by
Mussolini and his Black Shirts in '22 when they marched on Rome to
rid Italy of the specter of Communism, or the motive earlier that blew
up the Tsar and gave Russia the dictatorship of the Proletariat and the
purges of Stalin? Something secure and tangible, a creed and a
personality that will restore confidence and security in a world that
seems devoted to chaos? Even Hitlerism, with its central doctrine of
pride and hate, caught the imagination of Germany because it offered a
motto and a motive to German youth when no other motive seemed at
hand to exorcise fear. It is significant that all these revolutions have
been accomplished by militant youth inflamed by a new hope in a
crusade against fear. (3)
Paradoxical as it may seem, they have also been an assertion of
the worth of human nature and of freedom. For the security these
revolutions offered made their appeal to the imagination in the name of
freedom. Their accomplishment was greeted with the same lyric
abandon with which Shelley in anticipation celebrated the downfall of
all tyranny and the dawn of a new age of gold. 'The world's great age
begins anew, the golden years return.' How often has this refrain been

Brothers Karamazov; so far had humor transformed and etherealized

But who of our significant ones of today has this disarming gift
of humor? Satire there is today, perhaps more than is wholesome in any
age; but that genial gift of intimate entry into the very consciousness of
the reader, overpowering him by the charm of entertainment, until for
the moment the reader forgets his own personality in the larger world
into which he has been introduced--all this who of our moderns
possesses in a high degree? Who reads a novel today to be entertained?
Who writes first for entertainment, outside of Hollywood and the class
of the pulps? In the history of literature again there has never been
anything quite like it-- the desire of writer to instruct and reader to be
instructed, so obsessed are both with the contemporary problem, our
fatal insecurity.
For the same reason there has never been a class of writers so
prodigiously learned. To be sure there had been the scholar poets of
nearly every generation--Dante, Goethe, Milton, and the list might be
extended--but even the scholarship of a Goethe seems an easy burden
beside the miscellaneous pack of science, philosophy, economics, and
anthropology carried by several whom we shall meet in the sequel. (5)
The load is not an easy one, and the shoulders of the reader will
groan in sympathy with the writer. But it is a load both willingly
assume. Before one can understand the human panorama one must
study the making and the manner of the new institutions, and all this is
a matter of learning and labor.
As necessarily, too, it is a frank literature. To be sure there is
the naked frankness at times of those that have rebelled against old
restraints. The orthodox of a former age would label it 'naughtiness' and
think of the fruit of that forbidden tree that brought sin into this world
and of the moralist whose duty is to detect and damn. Of such
frankness in an effort to escape from the banal and once forbidden and
romp in a nudist paradise there is its share. But frankness that is due to
the desire to understand, and to leave nothing unsaid that may
contribute to understanding, of this there is not a little that may be said
in way of excuse. Our new sciences have revealed to us many things
about human nature. The new fiction is not going to allow this

knowledge to go by default, even if in some the enthusiasm of new

discovery and newer liberty may seem an intoxication.
It is to this 'new' literature that the search which has become this
book was dedicated, to see what the new knowledge of our age has
given us in answer to the eternal problems, the meaning of life. Where,
if anywhere, can we discover freedom? What is the good life and can it
again be rescued from the debris of revolution and war? Can the voice
of conscience be heard amid the shoutings of dictators and the
marshalled chorus of partisans? Will this new war, like the old one, be
one more tragic interlude of man's fatal incompetence? These questions
all of us ask and re-ask in intimate conversations at the fireside, in
wakeful hours when alone with conscience. Do our leading writers
offer any pertinent promise of aid to distress? (6)
It is impossible to study the present with the same detachment
as one studies the past. There we have a panorama complete and
unchanging, foothills and mountain peaks range on range, as
unalterable as a Himalayan landscape. For them time has ceased to
flow and their calm majesty early or late can indifferently await our
coming. Their pattern is of infinity. Not so the poets or novelists of
today and their readers. For us time is in full flux, and a point of view
as full of change and bewilderment as the moving center of a
whirlwind. Or better, perhaps, both he that writes and he that reads are
explorers in a new and ever-changing world and the adventure not yet
complete. The reader is not unlike the sailor companion of a Columbus
whom the shipmaster allows access to his log. There have been
interesting points of call, some apparently quite novel, some not greatly
different from many explored on previous voyages. But what is the
journey's end? And what new worlds shall we discover?
But though yet uncompleted and its end perhaps yet shrouded in
mists, this new age of our literature has been at times exciting, serious,
and always full of the explorer's daring. It is this unexpectedness that to
most comes to mind when one uses that hideous word of many
implications, 'modernism.' In poetry and prose, as in all the arts, the age
has been one of daring experiment. At its beginning, just after the Great
War, a young Italian poet, as uncompromising as a revolutionary
machine gun, shouted the new battle cry:

Morto e il Passato e con baionette

Stiamo uccidendo il Presente
Per mettere in trono il Futuro.

How am I to face the odds

Of man's bedevilment and God's;
I a stranger and afraid,
In a world I never made.
(A. E. Housman, Last Poems. By permission.) (8)

The Past is dead, let us stand

With bayonets slaying the Present,
That we may enthrone the Future.

A stranger and afraid, in a world I never made--this is the new and

fearsome attitude that consciously or unconsciously is shared by all
It isn't the external changes that terrify--though these have been
more rapid and more revolutionary than at any period of human history.
And their speed, like that of an unbraked car on a steep hill, is
accelerated every bewildering moment. No, it is not this, for human
nature has in its long career learned to accommodate itself to the new
and unexpected. But the universe itself has gone back on us, tricked us
out of all conscience, and now with a malicious irony mocks our pained
bedevilment. The old universe of the nineteenth century, in the good
days of faith, was a human universe, man-made, it seemed, and fitted
for a background of human life and human ideals. Its God, if it needed
a God, was humane and in the ideal human image. It seemed, in its then
supposed orderly processes, to encourage human faith and be eloquent
of human dignity. It was man's reason, and its instrument human
science, that made this world of man and nature a familiar and even a
domestic intimate. How completely, as all consciously or
unconsciously are aware, this dream--if it was a dream--has been
The new science speaks far more cautiously of the orderly
processes of nature, admits chaos as easily as order, and looks forward
to an end of meaningless night far more readily than to the glory of
God and the edification of man. What consistency with the fate of man,
and his idea of human excellence, has any of the new sciences, from
astronomy to psychology?
Is human nature any the more worthy? The new psychology,
since Freud gave it wide currency, has made much of a new domain as
irritatingly alluring as the unknowns and the unknowables in physics or
biology; the abyss of the subconscious. Is this the ultimate reality in
human nature? Is it here that one must look for the secret of human

The Future is the only reality, the Present is worthless, the Past
is dead, such was the new and daring revolutionary (7) gospel. It was a
gesture exactly parallel to the revolutions in government and society,
first in Soviet Russia, then in Italy, and again in Germany. A new
regime that would ignore the past and all tradition and history, mutilate
the present with liquidations and bloody purges, that the future may be
secure and without fear.
But these writers are not maniacs. It is that our times seem to
them so topsy turvy, that only by a complete revolution can they forget
the past, slay the indecent present, and set on the throne the secure and
only real future. There has been a break with the past, the reverence to
tradition has given place to distrust, and the present with its confusions
and insecurity and fear seems incurable. Dislike them as we may, the
revolutions of the past twenty and more years are only the more critical
symptoms of the unrest and fear that is the attitude of all our
contemporaries. Why, then, this battle cry of the new revolutionaries,
though all may not be willing to join in the chorus? Why this
willingness to gamble the present, as do soldiers in an assault? And by
what means may the future be made sure and set upon the throne? The
answer will doubtless reveal many of the causes of the fear that besets
all. 'What must we have to keep us safe from fear?' But first we must
know what causes the fear. Then, and only then will we be able to
discuss the recipes for safety that are offered by the more typical of our
contemporary thinkers.
I think we can put the answer into one word--we are living
today in a world that seems to have dropped a familiar mask and stands
before us for our acceptance bewilderingly and shockingly new: a new,
unhuman, and menacing world.

personality? Is the life of conscious motive and reflected action (9)

only a mask that the elusive real personality puts on, that it may play
the better its hidden role of inconsistency, paradox, and unreasonable
In this break with the tradition of the past there is one more
influence that science has had upon our outlook on human progress in
history. Progress in science and the technique of comfort, yes; but is
human nature any better or any happier? And are human institutions
any better calculated to promote the human desire for well-being? In
most parts of the world, or at least in Europe and America, it is true that
people are better housed and protected against the inclemencies of the
weather. But are they any happier? Is human nature any less vindictive
and cruel? In a word, is human history the record of progress? Does it
exhibit a design, as the evolutionist of a century ago dreamed?

certainty that the present and the future can rear a more bountiful
harvest? Is the present any more congenial to the man of good will; or
is polite indifference any less cruel than active persecution? Will the
future, to which many a youthful enthusiast of today devotes his
genius, be any more cordial?
Is public opinion, in spite of its cultivation and education, any
more attracted by the good than by the sinister? Have not revolutions
inspired by an inflamed public opinion been as destructive in the past
as beneficent? Is there any ground for feeling that public opinion may
be more uniformly beneficent today? A glance at what is going on in
the world is by no means reassuring. Are massed people any the less
liable to respond actively to the skilful mover of man? Science has put
at his disposal resources undreamed of by the demagogue of the past:
the press, whose control is easier than the optimistic nineteenth century
fancied; the radio, that blaring immediacy from which there is no
escape; and next television. And behind it all is the education of youth,
and its easy manipulation, as country after country too easily shows. It
is only too easy, seeing these things, for the thoughtful to grow
sceptical of the benefits of our so-called scientific civilization, and even
to look back with a nostalgic longing to the simpler past.
A distrust of science? Is all of science a gain? The scientist may
be never so disinterested, but are his gifts not somewhat like those of
the Greeks, to be feared in their aftermath? Has not science given war
its engines of destruction, more cruel than a natural cataclysm? But this
is only a lesser issue. Has it not by directing its gaze more obviously at
technique and technology tended to cultivate only the one side of
human nature--the more obvious because the external? It has given
conveniences and comforts and relaxations, and banished solitude. But
is man's life no more than his meat (11) and raiment and his
distractions? If something essential in human nature has been
overlooked, the oversight may truly be tragic. And there are many who
not only ponder, but are giving the answer of tragedy.
It is not difficult to summarize. The triumphs of science have
been followed by the reflection on the part of many that its application
is not wholly a thing of pride, nor has it promoted any sense of security.
On the contrary, it is only too easy, and to some inevitable, to feel that
it has somehow led to a growing estrangement between man and

Yet I doubt not through the ages one enduring purpose runs.
And the minds of men are broadened by the progress of the
Doesn't this pious hope of the poet seem a trifle musty today, as
does also the pious faith of Emerson?
Striving to be man the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form.
As some historians and thinkers read history today--in this day
of wars and their preparation, with their callous cruelties, cruelties that
those who are not engaged contemplate not with horror, but with cold
and sheathed indifference--is it not true that it is sometimes easier to
think of history and human institutions as having the aimlessness of
The good tendencies have been inextricably mixed with the
sinister. The same malicious destiny, that in a century, like an
advancing glacier, wiped out the excellence of classical Greece and
substituted the decline of Alexander and his successors, may be at work
today in Europe, a plague ripe and eager to destroy excellence just
when it seemed on the point of bursting into full flower. There have
been good (10) and great men in the past, the benefactors of humanity,
but how rare in the morass of stupid incompetence. Is there any

nature, and between man as he is sometimes revealed and man as he

fancied himself.
Where in this ceaseless revolution may one discover security
and peace? It is the old question, anticipated and faced three hundred
years ago by Pascal. 'Whatever the bourne where we think to find rest
and a firm refuge, it gives way and eludes us; if we follow it evades our
grasp, and slipping from us, escapes in an eternal flight. Nothing for us
is ever at rest.'
Is there a way out? There are those, and not a few, that despair.
The contradictions in the world and savage disappointments have been
too much for the tender of spirit. They have lost faith in the world and
humanity, stand aloof or turn their backs, and look within or without
for some substitute. Gifted with a sensitiveness above their fellows, the
greater is their pain, and the greater their nostalgic longing for the
security of a fancied past. On seeing the ever- widening abyss that
separates man's intellectual accomplishments and his moral discipline,
they seek a refuge where this dualism in human nature can be ignored.
Or convinced, naively or philosophically, of the human need for
happiness and peace, and seeing no means for its attainment in the way
of the world, they take a path apart, a lonely one for most and its
venture dubious. It will be interesting, I hope, to follow some of these
contemporary pilgrims' progresses, (12) and behold the vanity fairs,
castles of doubt, and valleys of the shadow of death in which they too
find only banality and grotesque tragedy. The story of these becomes
an elegy of disappointment, and their promised land an illusion.
There are on the other hand those who look beyond the
confusion to a promise of faith. To some it may not yet have become
manifest, but they have seen the star and follow the quest. For this new
journey of the wise men has all the sanction of religion, with all its
hope of a new dispensation. Some have discovered its formula, become
its apostles or disciples, and in imagination or in fact have set about
putting their house in order. For there have been among them men like
Saint John the Baptist, who have proclaimed the new day, and also one
like a false Messiah, whose book became an inspiration to many, and
his acts, for a reproach or worse, re-created a people. There have been
others who have called for a return to the ancient highway of the
humane tradition and to the religion that once gave power to

Christendom. The counsels of hope are as interesting and varied as the

elegies of despair.
In these two contrasting types of the contemporary mind I think
we can see most of the leading issues today. The pattern may not be
complete, but it ought to reveal its significance. Many times the pieces
of this mosaic will be seen to overlap. Some it will be impossible to
approve, but even these deserve a sympathetic hearing and
understanding. For we are trying to pass in review the ideas that are
making or undoing our Europe and America; each represents a concrete
philosophy of life, and each is convinced of its mission. Many centuries
ago when a new faith was proclaimed to a waiting world, and its first
evangelists were filled with a new eloquence, to the stranger their
varied expression of living faith seemed 'a confusion of tongues.' In the
medley today of fresh evangelists there is again a new confusion. Will
this new confusion of tongues, like the old, be followed by a rebirth of
the world and a better understanding of man (13) and his destiny? And
above all, will it restore man's faith in himself? For without this faith
all human work will be in vain. Is the story of human nature a record
only of change and decay? Or beyond the flux and above its noisy
brawl, like the silent peak of the Himalayas, is there something for
human nature that abides, that can restore flagging faith and bring
peace? (14)


'Understanding too much to be ever imprisoned, loving too
much ever to be in love.'

'The world is not respectable; it is mortal, tormented, confused, deluded

for ever; but it is shot through with beauty, with love, with glints of
courage and laughter; and in these the spirit blooms timidly, and
struggles to the light among the thorns.'
A SENSITIVE, refined, fastidious spirit that can find its home only in a
world of pure beauty; and the gross, noisy, and unashamed banality of

under the bo tree, that brought such harmony into the tortured mind of
Prince Siddharta, that ever after he has been known as the Enlightened,
the Lord Buddha. He, like many another that seeks the true way, had
revolted against the pain and meaninglessness of the chaos called life;
and from the vision came the philosophy of renunciation and true
discipline. Such a vision, again in an evil day, came to Plato of the
relation of the One to the many, of the Absolute to the finite, of that
beyond time to the world in flux, and the poetry of this vision, with
fancied myth and fable, became the poetry of (16) The Republic, The
Symposium and the Phaedo, as well as the philosophy of the Platonic
doctrine of Ideas.
But the world grows older, though perhaps not wiser, and there
are its newer accumulations of experience, knowledge and science, and
institutions. No philosophy of the past, not even that of the oriental
mystic or of the Greek, can quite meet the ever-new demands of the
present with its raw experience calling for a new synthesis and a new
harmony. So there is ever the need of the new poetic vision to meet the
insistent demand of the new hour; a need felt by every sensitive spirit
that is at the same time also restless intellect. And such was George
Santayana at the beginning of this troubled century, and such he is now
in his latest and most matured work. There is the poetic vision and
there is its philosophic commentary and gloss. Like Plato, too, he
breaks into poetry when he would communicate his vision.

the world it can never hope to escape. The demand for beauty in life,
and the tragic callousness of a day that prefers machines to men, and
conformity to self-knowledge. There have been those who have made
this the problem and the tragedy of the contemporary Hamlet. Hamlet
breaks into the poetry of the soliloquies to take refuge from a tempest
of fact, and clings to an idealized Horatio, searching in the poetry of
friendship for an anodyne against the complacency and brutality of a
world he cannot make his own. Not a little of this recoil from life one
can discover in the critical philosopher and sensitive poet, George
His world is not things as they are to those less gifted with
sensibility, but ideas and pure beauty. What the tormented and deluded
world of sense has to do and say will come to him only faintly by
wireless, and it is in his power at any time to turn the dial. His is 'not
the troubled glories and brief perfections of this world only, but rather
that desired perfection, that eternal beauty which lies sealed in the heart
of every living thing.' And once when he told the story of an effort to
come to battle with banal fact, the resulting novel was, like Hamlet, a
thoughtful tragedy. Somewhat in this manner the German poet
Hauptmann interprets Shakespeare (Hamlet in Wittenberg). (15)
George Santayana has always been a paradox, to the students
who once listened to his lectures on aesthetics at Harvard, to the public
who tried to read a meaning in his essays and poems, to the professed
academics who sought in The Life of Reason and Scepticism and
Animal Faith for a philosophical system and creed. To some he was a
poet who had gone philosopher, to others a philosopher who had gone
poet; and the gossamer beauty of his philosophic weaving, gleaming
with the charm of his persuasiveness, had the dewy unreality of a
sunrise before the world is ready to go to dusty labor. Then all were
stunned by the coming and success of his novel, The Last Puritan,
where philosophy became flesh and dwelt among us. It is philosophy
come to life, vivid and persuasive, and significant to one who would
understand the contemporary mind.
Not all philosophers have been poets, but all great philosophies
have been born of some poetic experience. And the more significant the
philosophy the greater in scope the poetic vision that gave it birth. Such
must have been the mystical vision, while he sat in contemplation

Love not as do the flesh-imprisoned men

Whose dreams are of a bitter bought caress,
Or even of a maiden's tenderness
Whom they love only that she loves again.
For it is but thyself thou lovest then,
Or what thy thoughts would glory to possess;
But love thou nothing thou wouldst love the less
If henceforth ever hidden from thy ken.
Love but the formless and eternal Whole
From whose effulgence one unheeded ray
Breaks on this prism of dissolving clay
Into the flickering colours of thy soul.

These flash and vanish; bid them not to stay,

For wisdom brightens as they fade away.

head gently, bidding us say, Nay, nay to all our madness. Did
you think, because I would not spare you, that I never felt the
cold steel? Has not my own heart been pierced? Shed your
tears, my son, shed your tears. The young man who has not
wept is a savage, and the old man who will not laugh is a fool.
He 'shakes his head gently, bidding us say, Nay, nay to all our
madness.' Such is Santayana, the sceptic, and for the same reason.
Why? because in the wisdom learned through pain, he has learned
where, and where only, he can lay up his treasures. Not in this world,
for to him, as to the Buddhist, this world is Maya, illusion. It is as
unsubstantial as a dream. Even the visions of the great mystics, those
that caught glimpses of the light that never was on sea or land, cannot
be trusted, for many, even the great poet Dante, have a not unselfish
motive behind the vision, the desire to discover a harmony in which
they may find personal security and peace. Yes, even Buddha, whose
Nirvana is an Infinity like the ocean, in which the pained human soul,
like the errant drop of water, can finally lose itself, even this Infinity
must be given up by a thoroughgoing sceptic, for it, too, is prompted by
a selfish motive for security. The true sceptic refuses to face the
paradox of the One and the many, for to him both are illusion.
Nor is the dreamer of the illusion any more substantial than his
dream. The self, this creature of sense, intellect, memory, and will, is
but the thing of the single sentient moment, no more. The past, with its
doors opened by memory, is no more than polite fiction, it 'is a novel I
am constantly composing,' almost 'sheer fiction.' All that is left is the
single flash of the sentient moment, the immediate Now, and for its
object only the present idea. So it must be to the consistent philosopher
who is speculative only. The ideas that we build up into images of
ourselves and of the world in which we live, these may be dramatic and
interesting and even edifying; but to trust in them as in something real
and abiding and to venture into a compact with them, this can be a
speculative blunder of tragic magnitude. 'The philosopher, when he is
speculative only, is a sort of perpetual celibate.' 'Scepticism is the
chastity of the intellect.' This is a vow of celibacy that the poet can take
when he contemplates a world not worth his affection. It can be a
celibacy without (19) amorous dreams, for it is based upon the

'These flash and vanish; bid them not to stay, for wisdom
brightens as they fade away.' This last couplet, like Plato's parable of
the prisoners in a cave in The Republic, will need plentiful comment;
and it is the text of the philosophy of The Life of Reason. For there is in
them a nostalgic longing for beauty, in a world where beauty forever
fades. (17) There is the distrust of all selfish desire, that the vision of
Buddha translated into the soul's mystical search for its true home in
Nirvana. There is the discriminating choice of the attitude of refined
scepticism, with its polite refusal ever to be imposed upon by an
illusion. And yet, surrounded with these safeguards, with it all there is
some remaining recompense of a joy in living. All this will be the bone
and tissue of his philosophy, when they have become articulate; but the
breath of life is the poetry. Finally, The Last Puritan is the effort to
translate his philosophy into motives and conduct, and the poet,
philosopher, novelist has come full circle, from life through
philosophy, back again to life.
It is a bewildering world that this poet, philosopher, novelist
faces--far more bewildering than we who abandon ourselves to
automatic common sense can imagine. The past, the present, the calls
of sense, the inhibitions of will and convention, the demands of the
reason for form and intelligence, and above all the longing for beauty.
'Sense is like a lively child always at our elbow, saying, Look, look,
what is that? Will is like an orator, indignantly demanding something
different. History and fiction and religion are the poets, continually
recomposing the facts with some tragic unity which is not true.' What
then is wisdom?
Ah, wisdom is sharper than death and only the brave can love
her. When in the thick of passion the veil suddenly falls, it
leaves us bereft of all we thought ours, smitten and consecrated
to an unearthly revelation, walking dead among the living, not
knowing what we seem to know, not loving what we seem to
love, but already translated into an invisible paradise where
none of these things are, but one only companion, smiling and
silent, who by day and night stands beside us and shakes his

untroubled intellectual conviction of the unreality not only of all facts

but also of the mind and person that take the vow.
A vacuum universe of sentient moments and revolving ideas,
like the molecular world the physicist discovers for us in which there
are only the electrons and protons and neutrons. For these have reality
only in abstract mathematics, and no persistence in time and no
relations in space. It is as hard to picture, as I sit in the secure comfort
of a half- lighted study with the secure permanence of shelves of books
and easy chair, as the clouds of uncountable molecular universes that
the physicist offers as their substitute. Coherence, pattern, and aim in
life, how shall these things be secured that alone can give life a
meaning? And here again, like the theoretical physicist, the philosopher
replies, by common sense. The physicist may know that the electrical
needle that records the pulse of his experiment is only a flying and
dissolving cloud, and the numbers on his dial are only illusions on an
illusory and elusive chart, but he treats them seriously, is forced to, or
his experiment is vain. So with the philosopher--what he denies with
his reason, he restores with his 'animal faith.' But it must be by a
chastened faith, tempered always by the doubt of the sceptic, one that
can easily keep the world at a discreet distance when the world's
actions and breath offend a delicate taste.
Yet after all it is a necessary faith, for man is not a disembodied
intellect, but an animal likewise of flesh and blood, imagination and
passions, with a zest for living and a desire to control the world in
which he lives. And life as we know it is a succession of impertinent
shocks of experience, that even to the most sincere of sceptics will
interrupt the most pertinent of speculation. Rude as they are, and
impossible speculatively to account for, he is forced to a practical
compromise with them if he would live, as Homer was forced, in spite
of the perfection of the world of his imagination, (20) to compromise
with his blindness, or as an idealist political reformer with the greed
and selfishness of his blind constituency. From this impact of
experience the philosopher is forced to admit the practical and
compromising reality first of himself and then of the world of material
things and persons by which he is surrounded.
It is a disconcerting compromise, this permitting the shock of
life to disturb the calm serenity of pure philosophy, not unlike

associating the thought of changes of underwear and the exigencies of

food and its digestion with the Venus of Milo or the blessed damozel.
There will always be something uncomfortable and undignified in the
surrender, and we shall see that Santayana is more than reluctant to
make it. But like the turtle dropped by an eagle on the bald head of the
poet Aeschylus, this world of life and living, though its essential reality
may be denied, has a habit of shockingly revealing itself to the head of
the philosopher or poet.
There is only one way of discounting such untoward accidents:
the cultivation of science and the arts. Science, though it is
speculatively as indefensible as the world it is concerned with,
nevertheless does enable the scientist to cultivate the practical means of
defense against some of the shocks of brute chance. It does enable man
to throw certain safeguards about him and live more securely. It might
even have prevented the poet Aeschylus from being the target of the
bird. It does provide for the philosopher a larger security even for his
speculation, and a means of spreading his doctrines. It can do even
more. 'The function of perception and natural science is, not to flatter
the sense of omniscience in an absolute mind, but to dignify animal life
by harmonizing it, in action and in thought, with its conditions.'
Like science, art is a revelation of life and its conditions:
science, that life may be understood and controlled; art, that it may be
more richly understood and enjoyed. Only through the agency of art
can the mind in imagination leave its own (21) boundaries and discover
new realms and their treasures. Such was the experience of Keats on
his first reading of Homer, even in translation.
Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, And many goodly
states and kingdoms seen; Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. Oft of one wide expanse had I
been told That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne: Yet did I
never breathe its pure serene Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and
bold: When felt I like some watcher of the skies When a new planet
swims into his ken; Or like stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes He
stared at the Pacific--and all his men Look'd at each other with a wild
surmise-- Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
In the great poets, by the device of 'literary psychology,' the
imagination can carry from the abyss of chaos to the stars, and see the

panorama of human nature in all its attributes, gaining thereby the

richer knowledge of others and the expansion at the same time of one's
own mind.
This makes the mainspring of fiction, and its popular charm.
The illusion of projecting one's own thought into remote or imaginary
characters is only half an illusion: these thoughts were never there, but
they were always here, or knocking at the gate; and there is an indirect
victory in reaching and positing elsewhere, in an explicit form, the life
which accident denied me, and thereby enjoying it sub rosa in spite of
fate. And there are many experiences which are only tolerable in this
dreamlike form, when their consequences are negligible and their
vehemence is relieved by the distance at which they appear, and by the
show they make. Thus both the truth and the illusion of literary
psychology are blessings: the truth by revealing the minds of others,
and the illusions by expanding one's own mind.
Such is the value of the art of literature. But the values of the
other arts, painting and even music, are not different.(22)The original
human artist, who on the walls of his cave drew with red chalk the
figure of the dreaded saber-toothed tiger, gained thereby a certain
mastery over the form of the monster that in life he would avoid at all
costs, and a certain extension of his own power which could thus
subdue the horror and make it an object of secure and pleased
contemplation. As in science, as in fiction, so in painting the materials
are the raw and disorderly debris of life. It is the mind, the life of
reason, that can give them order and form, transfuse them with
meaning, and gain thus in the compromise with life a temporary
advantage. A truce which has even the illusion of security. Again there
is the motive of the artist in the philosopher who is striving thus to
come to terms with life, through art.
For even if the universe in which the sceptic, fleeing from
illusion, is forced by consistent and thoroughgoing doubt to take refuge
is quite a vacuum, the mind of the poet and the philosopher, like nature,
abhors a vacuum. The vacuum of space for the physicist is filled with
electrons and their satellites; the vacuum of the poet is peopled with the
systems and orbits of ideas--essences Santayana calls them. And they
are infinite like the creative mind that engenders them. They are the
illusions of self and of things, but now known for what they are, and

hence robbed of their power to deceive, disembodied ghosts of things

that animal faith regards as real.
For the unintelligible accident of existence will cease to appear
to lurk in this manifest being, weighting and crowding it, and
threatening it with being swallowed up by nondescript neighbors. It
will appear dwelling in its own world, and shining by its own light,
however brief may be my glimpse of it: for no date will be written on
it, no frame of full or of empty time will shut it in; nothing in it will be
addressed to me, nor suggestive of any spectator. It will seem an event
in no world, an incident in no experience. The quality of it will have
ceased to exist: it will be merely the quality which it inherently,
logically, and inalienably is. It will be an ESSENCE.(23)
Can one live with these? The answer is quite specific. 'To
substitute the society of ideas for that of things is simply to live in the
mind; it is to survey the world of existences in its truth and beauty
rather than in its personal perspectives, or with practical urgency. It is
the sole path to happiness for the intellectual man, because the
intellectual man cannot be satisfied with a world of perpetual change,
defeat and imperfection. It is the path trodden by ancient philosophers
and modern saints and poets.'
'The sole path for the intellectual man, the path trodden by
ancient philosophers and modern saints and poets.'Modern saints?
There may be such; yet Gandhi has selected another path a little closer
to the real world. But philosophers and poets? If George Santayana is
of their brotherhood, he has with philosophic and poetic skill defined a
retreat where he can live surrounded continually with beautiful objects
and beautiful ideas coming faintly by wireless, and controlled, from the
grosser world without, and discover security and peace. Here time and
change and imperfection do not enter, for it is of the quality of essences
that they are timeless and perfect. Into this world the poet can enter at
will. Glimpses of it can and will come to the spirit prepared for the
visitation in the midst of shattering tragedy, for they are life's
As in the midst of battle there is room For thoughts of love, and
in foul sin for mirth; As gossips whisper of a trinket's worth Spied by
the death-bed's flickering candle-gloom; As in the crevices of Caesar's


tomb The sweet herbs flourish on a little earth: So in this great disaster
of our birth We can be happy, and forget our doom.
Only in these can be discovered the order and beauty that life denies.
'Only art and reason, however, are divine in a moral sense, not because
they are less natural than inspiration . . . but because they mount toward
the ultimate(24)heaven of order, beauty, intellectual light, and the
achievement of eternal dignities.'
Art and morals then become one. For then and then only can be
discovered that harmony in one's nature and one's activities that
Aristotle called Eudaimonia, happiness, where without inhibition and
friction, without the ascetic's pain and the sensualist's blank satiety, life
is always fresh and welcome, and its exercise a joy. But is it life?
Certainly not in the sense in which Goethe's Faust approached life for
the gratification of every sense, to live in the tingle of the nerves as
well as in the exercise of the mind. For it was there that Faust
discovered the unappeasable quality of the appetite of both, and with it
tragedy. Here the gratification of the senses is all vicarious and
aesthetic, with the fragrance of the essences of things and the harmony
of pure ideas, while the senses themselves refuse the illusion and the
mind keeps its sceptical and aloof chastity.
For the celibate poet knows that there is nothing in so- called
reality that can compete in beauty and timeless perfection with its
essence, that no earthly love can compete in essential happiness with its
poetic image. Keats may write, in forlorn absence, the exquisite last
Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art-- Not in lone
splendor hung aloft the night.
But no Fanny Brawne that was ever created can in her response, timid
or abandoned, bring such timeless, exquisite, and yet melancholy
happiness. So a thoughtful poet who understands 'too much to be ever
imprisoned,' and loves 'too much ever to be in love,' shuns an embrace
that can never be other than 'not respectable, mortal, tormented,
confused, deluded for ever.' And yet this living only by wireless brings
a compensating joy, for it is also 'shot through with beauty, with love,
with glints of courage and laughter.' For these are the disembodied
essences among which he can(25)dwell above the confusion and
torment, forever undeluded and undefiled.Is this one source of much of

contemporary pessimism, the apparent conviction that the ordinary man

and the saint, philosopher, or poet must be forever separated? The
essential contradiction results: the paradox of the ideal and the real-and I again quote Santayana: 'I can see no essential reason; but
historically natural society long ago proved a moral failure. It could not
harmonise nor decently satisfy even the instincts on which it rests.'
Real Politik is not so troubled.
A dream world? Not quite, for Santayana condemns dreams
which are no more than the idling of the mind, and have nothing to
show after their passing. 'A lovely dream is an excellent thing in itself,
but it leaves the world no less a chaos and makes it by contrast seem
even darker than it is.' A dream is transient; essences are eternal. Of the
coming of the dream there is no formula or assurance; essences come
and increase with the growing active mind. Dreams leave no trace upon
life and conduct; a right knowledge of essence must by its nature seek
to translate itself into conduct. Of the meaning and nature of dreams
there is little clue, but essences--'the eternal aspect of things summons
spirit out of its initial immersion in sensation and in animal faith and
clarifies it into pure spirit.'
Pure spirit, and the question of conduct for one whose spirit has
been made pure: how shall he betake himself to the world and there
play a worthy part? Or to revert to the relation between poetry and
philosophy, and life and conduct, how can the poetic vision that gets
itself translated thus into a philosophy finally return to and make terms
with life? And Santayana to be quite consistent has gratified his age by
furnishing a concrete answer, The Last Puritan. It is for this reason that
here is a novel that is more than a story --it is a scepticism and a faith.
Mutatis mutandis, one could desire that Plato, the poet, had also written
a novel. Its title might have been The Last Greek.
Those who had followed Mr. Santayana's literary career were
not surprised by the appearance of The Last Puritan.(26)
What might have been surprising was the form it took of a prose
novel. Long before he had given much of its theme in the poetic drama
Lucifer. All of the main problems in the Santayana paradox, the
necessity of faith in something, and yet the impossibility to reason
about the grounds of faith, are there. To this is the added theme, the

chief one, that gives the drama its tragic poignancy, the futility, the
pathetic futility of Good:

seek a higher authority from whom their lives may have direction and
value. He consumes himself in the crucible of his own thought.

Alas! The ghost of good that haunts the earth Is sadder than all

But this poem is brief and only an allegory. To translate its

ideas into the prose of life and daily conduct a novel was necessary.

It is this that finally crushes Lucifer, and turns him into the
contemporary symbol of romantic revolt. He is the impotent successor
of the long line of tragic rebels against external authority and injustice:
Prometheus and Satan, and their lesser successors, Don Juan, Cain,
Lucifer, the exalted spirit that led the revolt of the angels in
heaven, is the Reason that demands absolute Truth and absolute Justice.
'For while truth is, I must be.' He sees only too clearly the problem of
reconciling the demand of justice and the fact of evil, in a universe
created by a God who calls himself a God of righteousness. To Him he
makes the eternal demand:
Tell, O Lord, the cause Why sluggish nature doth with thee
contend. And thy designs, observant of her loves, By tortuous
paths must struggle to their end.

The Last Puritan is in essence--and I use the word much in the

Santayana manner--a Pilgrim's Progress in the Life of Reason.It may be
objected that I do not raise the question of the appropriateness of the
title, or whether Santayana understands or satirizes the New England
brand of puritanism, or whether Santayana himself is a puritan or
Puritan. The meaning of the title itself is quite clear--it is the adventure
of one who would be 'pure in spirit' in an impure or animal world; and
the last means only a world that yet cherishes illusions. Faithfully the
novel parallels The Life of Reason, in which the author as philosopher
surveys the whole enterprise or adventure of the human spirit, which in
his own words is 'a romance polyglot, interrupted, insecure,' the
'romance of wisdom.' There are the same themes in this romance:
Reason in Common Sense, Reason in Society, Reason in Religion,
Reason in Art, and Reason in Science. Each in The Life of Reason is a
separate volume, and the whole the body of his speculative doctrine.
Step by step the novel parallels the speculative adventure, but in the
concrete life of the hero from boyhood to the end. Here are all the
stages of 'his polyglot, interrupted, insecure' progress in search of
understanding, harmony, happiness. And over it all there hangs the
ominous question, can the peace that the philosopher, and even the
poet, may attain be made available to one who would live in the midst
of the battle? There will be pathos in the answer, and even tragedy.(28)

Thoughtful human nature has ever asked this the primal

question. It has, like Lucifer, seen
Right balked with cunning and truth shamed with lies.
As the human conscience, when it looks about it and sees how things
go in the world, longs for a more nearly perfect universe, so Lucifer
contrasts the demand of his reason with the pitiful reality.(27)

The problem for the new pure in spirit is far more severe than
for the old Puritan. Both have an evil world they would escape or
subdue. But here the resemblance ceases. For the old believer in the
world of spirit had a jealous and angry God as ally of his faith and foe
of his weakness. The line between the beauty of righteousness and the
allurements of the world was drawn without shading. The evil attracted
only the evil in his fallen nature, and this it became his moral duty
assisted by grace to subdue. He could pluck out the offending

There should be no more pain, And I, in that republic of the

just, Might live from day to day in peace, and trust That life,
although mysterious, was not vain.
Life not vain. But because Lucifer cannot make a new universe,
he retires from the conflict. He will not submit, for that would be
unworthy of the sovereign reason; he can find no companions, for all

members, and, halt and blind, enter the kingdom of God where all
things would be added unto him. But the new Puritan has no such
assurances; his scepticism has denied for him the heavenly kingdom,
and his reward is only beauty of thought and peace of mind; for
assistance he has no God in whose might he can trust, but only himself
and the few who share his faith. The old Puritan could look confidently
to the Day of Judgment when his enemies would be confounded: the
new can look only at the panorama of history and read its plain and not
reassuring comment.
Such was Oliver, the hero of the story. 'He tried to keep himself
for the best,' but where should he find it? He had a 'hatred of all shams,
scorn of all mummeries, a bitter merciless pleasure in the hard facts,'
but only to bruise himself in their encounter. It is the story of these
successive bruises that is the plot of the novel. To make moral order
and harmony prevail in his own life he was willing, like the old Puritan,
to pluck out the eye that offends, 'even if it be the eye of beauty, and to
enter halt and lame into the kingdom of single-mindedness.' Or, in a
word, here is the attitude both of the philosopher and of the poet--he
'couldn't admit chaos.' And life is chaos. Can one reduce it to order, in
oneself, and govern it, and thus discover beauty?
In a sense Oliver is George Santayana, but in a wider
sense(29)he is Everyman, who feels his own chaste intellectual and
moral superiority to the chaos and hears a call to go forth and slay the
dragon. It is not for nothing that his German sentimental governess
calls him Siegfried. But even a philosopher cannot kill dragons by
wireless. To do this he must possess a deal of 'animal faith' that will
make the exploit worth the effort and will allow him unshrinkingly to
soil his ears and his eyes with the noisy brawl, and herein lies the moral
and the tragedy of the novel. At the beginning of this sketch I called
Santayana the contemporary Hamlet. The theme of The Last Puritan is
the theme of a twentieth-century Hamlet, with a task far more serious
than righting the wrongs in a court ruled by lust, unnatural ambition,
sycophancy, and senile diffidence. Oliver's world is the twentieth
century, and his attitude as painful.
The time is out of joint; oh cursed spite, That ever I was born to
set it right.

In the same larger sense the other characters in the novel are
contemporary states of mind. The range of these is surprisingly large,
but it is what has been omitted that is perhaps the more significant. As
in Everyman it is only those that represent temptations to swerve from
the path of final victory that appear on the scene. Others, like more
specialized worldly success, like the narrowed life of the professions or
commerce, these have no power over the catholic demands of this
modern Siegfried. These lesser and obvious dragons are unworthy of
the magic sword of his sceptical intellect. Only those that might have
power over him and meet some inner demand of his nature appear in
this allegory.
There is his uncle Nathaniel. He is the Puritan ascetic,
caricatured to be sure, but none the less convincing, with his narrow
routine and his steadfast refusal to touch the life about him, until the
refusal has become second nature. One could 'suspect that it would
have required more heroism(30)or Nathaniel to yield to temptation than
for Saint Anthony to resist it.' Here is something that seems to be of the
'spirit,' and of spirit triumphant over matter. His was the environment in
which the young Oliver was raised. This was the tradition, as of a
Knight of the Cross, to which this new crusader could dedicate himself
worthily. Cold, aloof, sceptical toward all things save his faith,
dedicated to the good, as he felt the good, he moved through life with
the singlemindedness of the iron man of Sir Artegall. There is
something superb about Nathaniel, a beauty of holiness, but a beauty
that is so pure as to be repulsive.
There is his father Peter who in youth had known a tragedy and
was now pure sceptic, as his brother Nathaniel was the man of faith.
Peter is as exquisite as Nathaniel, and a person beside of spiritual
beauty, as the sceptic defines spirit. The beauty of a perfect vacuum,
super-ethereal. With his perfect intellect and perfect taste and perfect
denial of all ends, and yet his perfect power to assess things with their
intellectual index, there was nothing to which he could dedicate
himself. He hadn't hated, he hadn't feared, he had preserved his
intellectual liberty, but it was the liberty of the single atom in an empty
universe. He had made il gran refuto, the great renunciation, and with it
has come harmony and peace. Can Oliver follow in the footsteps of his


father? One may admire without respect. His father had never
commanded or fought.
There is his mother-but her influence had been negative --who
was immersed completely in the world of society and its obligations
and codes. An unattractive woman from the first, when she snared the
unattached Peter and built upon him her career. Santayana is never
above reproach in his studies of women. Non ragioniam di lor ma
guarda e passa, let us not speak of these, only glance and pass by, as
Dante said of certain empty shades on the frontiers of Hell. But there is
his Uncle Caleb, who is neither a vacuum nor(31) ignoble. His is a
spiritual life very different from Peter's and Nathaniel's. For his is a
return to the dogma and the poetry of the Church Universal and
But there is one and only one thorough, consistent, realistic,
encyclopdic expression of faith in the human heart. It is Catholic
dogma: the dogma that God has become man, actually and historically
and for ever, with all that is involved in that mystery. Any revisions
and reforms of Catholic faith are backslidings into heathenism.
And this is no partial religion for a partial life. 'You know what
the French king said about Massillon. "If he had spoken a little about
religion, he would have spoken a little about everything." '
There is the rector, Mr. Darnley, with his practical spiritual life,
a little less militant and a great deal more sympathetic. For it admitted
more sympathy with the world and a larger concern with its
shortcomings. He compromised with life, while he yet maintained a
vision. He can understand Oliver, as nearly as anyone did:

a church, and a faith, that calls itself universal, but to accept it and its
parish for a universe was to make a renunciation impossible to Oliver's
sceptical intellect.
Then there are Lord Jim and Mario, two varieties of pure animal
faith, both beautiful, sensuous. Lord Jim, 'the common man on a
pedestal,' possessing the courage of his full animal nature, the joy of
pure, frank, fearless sensuous life(32)and as unquestioning, yet at the
end a bit wistful, as a child that has missed some unsuspected
visitation. And Mario, with the courage of his full human nature. 'Yet
behind this joyousness there appeared a strange detachment; perhaps it
was this detachment that made the joyousness possible.' For Mario like
Goethe seemed to have found the secret of a blend of art and intellect
and sense that could embrace the whole of life and not be offended. But
it was precisely because Mario accepted life without the effort to
command it, and enjoyed it without offense at its grossness, that Oliver
could not be Mario. Far less could he be Lord Jim.
Of course, they haven't the least notion what they are going to
fight about. No more has any true soldier. You think it stupid, do you?
Your philosophy requires you to find a reason for everything? But do
you know why you were born? Do you know what you are living for?
Are you sure it's worthwhile? It just happens. Is anything in this world
arranged as anybody would have wished--the mountains and rivers or
our own bodies or our own minds? No: but we have to make the best of
them as they are. And sometimes it's glorious work. So is war. But it's
horrible, you say, and stupid, because very likely at the end you'll be
worse off than at the beginning. Yes, very likely; and you might say the
same of love-making. Nobody would choose and plan it in cold blood.
It's a silly business, a sad business; and I know what I'm talking about.
Yet love-making is in the nature of things, like childbirth and death,
which are horrible too; and no decent person would have put any of
those things into human life, if he had had the say about it.
So Oliver moved through life, unable to accept it, and still more
unable to command. The world he knows and can accept and command
is the world of ideas, or essences. With them he can be in love, for they
are eternal and of the texture of one's own mind. But should one make
the effort to see their likeness in this world of sense? The discrepancy
can be both comic and tragic. So Oliver, who all his days thrills with

'Yes, my dear Oliver, you are an 75U+03 . It is

a great privilege, a tragic privilege. For just as the merely
natural man ends tragically because the spirit in him is
strangled, so the spiritual man lives tragically, because his flesh
and his pride and his hopes have withered early under the hot
rays of revelation.'
But it was precisely because Oliver couldn't find the revelation
that he withered. Perhaps Rose Darnley came a little closer when she
called him 'an ascetic without faith.' Like Caleb, Mr. Darnley represents

the idea of love, can never find it in any woman. The Baronne,
overwhelmed with gratitude at his generosity,(33)throws herself into
his arms; but her kiss has the, odor of sardine sandwiches, and Oliver
recoils. Essences do not live on sardines. 'Loving too much ever to be
in love, understanding too much ever to be imprisoned.' Such is
Oliver's blessing, but a blessing that, like Hamlet's, carried the
compensation of impotence, and this was his tragedy.'
'But if man's moral nature contradicts the world and runs
counter to it, ought not that moral nature to be transformed and made
harmonious with the reality?' But this is a question that can be put only
to the God that created it, and in Santayana's sceptical universe there is
no God. So the question remains unanswered, the rest is silence.

truth and of destiny, bidding life renounce beauty and perfection and
life itself, whenever and wherever these are impossible.'
It is the predicament of both Lucifer and Oliver.(35)
'At a distance the world looks pretty enough. From near it's
brainless, banal, and indecent beyond words.'

'How old-fashioned I am, how clerical, how rhetorical, talking

about divine love. People would laugh if they heard me. I have
read too much Plotinus. That idea of a divine being, the real
object of all loves, is like my false Edith or my false Lord Jim, a
mirage, an idol of the mind, an impossible object. Granted: yet
the falser that object is, the stronger and clearer must have been
the force in me that called it forth and compelled me to worship
it. It is this force in myself that matters: to this I must be true.'


'It was the fruit of the Tree of Life, not of the Tree of the
Knowledge of Good and Evil, with which the Serpent tempted

And here we have it. Like Oliver's, Santayana's is essentially a

religious mind and imagination. It has been his tragedy, like Oliver's, to
be born too late. In this day of science the seeds of religion fall only too
often upon stony ground and their shoots wither in early youth. And for
a scepticism that can destroy faith in a power for righteousness, all
lesser and substitute faiths are tragically vain. This is the peril of too
great understanding when it is united with a great love. Santayana has
himself said it in the preface to his collected works. It might almost be
taken as his valedictory to a world that has proved itself unworthy and
without trust: 'It is therefore in the interests of life to become more
intelligent and to establish a harmony also with the environment and
the future. But life enlightened is spirit: the voice of life, and therefore
aspiring to all the perfections to which(34)life aspires, and loving all
the beauties that life loves; yet at the same time spirit is the voice of

GERHART HAUPTMANN belongs to the generation before 1914-18.

Nearly all the work by which he will be remembered was done before
Germany first invaded Belgium and France. But on the anniversary of
his seventieth birthday in 1932, before Hitler made literary criticism
impossible in Germany, he was honored as the dean of German if not
European letters, special editions of his works were dedicated, and even
in America tribute was paid to the dramatist many were willing to
compare with Shakespeare, as the poet of humanity and herald of a new
age. If in point of time he belongs to the older generation, in influence
and prestige he is very much with us, and speaks a language a
multitude find only too easy to echo. In an assessment of contemporary
thought it is impossible to omit Hauptmann.
'Brainless, banal, and indecent beyond words'; more than once,
and recently, have words like these been hurled at the panorama of
contemporary life. In Hauptmann's play it is the diseased and horribly

beset artist Gabriel Schilling, out of the unwholesome morass he made

of life, who is crying out for peace, health, and creative effort. But in
Hauptmann's novels and plays the man of health also can come (37)
back to life and discover it equally sinister and uncompromisingly
brutal. For Hauptmann's Ulysses on his return to Ithaca is no snivelling
Gabriel Schilling. He has been dramatically victorious over the
despoilers of his home; yet the final word is with the inscrutable, and
the fruits of victory are not worth the struggle. In the last act there is
not much to choose between the drowning artist and the disillusioned

contemporary life. Why does Hauptmann almost never attain them; but
like his einsame Menschen, his lonely folk, follow their vanishing clue
in an ever nostalgic search?
Convinced he is at the outset that man ought to be happy, that
he has been in the past, and that happiness is recoverable. Perhaps this
faith is in part a debt he owes to Rousseau, perhaps in part to his revolt
against the once orthodox Christian doctrine of original sin and human
life as a vale of tears, perhaps in part to his own richly sensuous nature.
The early peoples had it, as in the myth of the Garden of Eden. Early
classical Greece had it, before Socrates and Plato introduced the habit
of self-examination and ethical analysis. Convinced he is likewise that
for some reason or other this faculty for happiness has of late been lost
for most, atrophied for want of use, and is recoverable only in the more
richly endowed. Convinced he seems above all that the modern patterns
of society, with their effects on behavior, have made the return of a
happy golden age, like that of ancient Greece, a thing past hope or
belief. From Before Sunrise to Before Sunset only at the rarest intervals
do the clouds lift and dispel the gloom; for this creative imagination
hope is ever under the heel of despair.
Has joy departed from life? Has our new science, with its
intellectual world of industry and mechanical codes and class
distinctions, has the knowledge of ourselves that the new
sciences afford, have all these lost for us the faculty of
adventure into the rich and sensuous joys of living? Have they
so divided human nature into the social man, the intellectual
man, the political man, and the mechanical man, that in his
patterned and routine behavior, the result instead of inner
harmony and outer, is a 'hocus-pocus of human intellect and
unsatisfying chaos?' Instead of spontaneity, routine; instead of
the uprush of natural emotions and passions, the sterile and
vestigial recollections of atrophied impotence.(39)
This at least seems the painful conviction that overwhelms the
sensitive reader of this dean of German letters.
Gerhart Hauptmann knows the findings of contemporary
science and what it has to say of human behavior. While still an art
student, wavering between painting, sculpture, and poetry, he interested
himself in sociology, psychology, and biology. The interest especially

And yet in all his lonely folk who have lost the gift of living
there remains the eager thirst for happiness. The bell-founder, Heinrich,
of The Sunken Bell, has his dream and in the elfish Rotendelein a
momentary possession of its magic power; as the renegade priest in The
Heretic of Soana catches his vision in a child of nature, Agata. Both for
a moment are raised to proportions more than human, and to the thrill
of pure creative art. Both fancy that they have tasted of 'the fruit of the
Tree of Life not of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil with
which the serpent tempted Eve.' Yet both became outcasts. The one
dies hugging the vision, an ironical comfort; the other becomes a
hermit amid the fastnesses of the mountains.
Is the fruit of the tree of life today an elixir of death? Must life
be accepted only on terms of indecency, banality, and unreason? What
has Gerhart Hauptmann to say of life? Why the prevailing note of
tragedy in nearly all of his work? His long literary career has been
compared with that of Goethe. More recently his universality has been
likened to that of Shakespeare. Are his tragedies, like those of
Shakespeare, revelations of an ironic and malignant chance against
which no human foresight or greatness is secure? Or is there some fatal
defect, some flaw in the tissue itself of his characters as of all
humanity, that renders them ever incapable of grasping the elusive
peace and joy? The thrill of living, the sensuous abandonment to the
luxury of life's caress, the ecstasy of successful effort, and the
intoxicating spasm of victory--there is much search in these our later
years for the(38)hidden springs from whence such joys flow. They
alone can banish the indecency, banality, and unreason of

in the new psychology dates with the growing ambitions of that

science, and in his pictures of the symbolisms of dreams and masked
gratifications of repressed desires in Hanneles Himmelfahrt (The
Assumption of Hannele) he parallels some of the work of Freud and
Jung. His Die Weber (The Weavers) is a sociological document,
painfully accurate, of the life of a people conditioned by a poisonous
environment. All of his plays, even the earliest, show the keen interest
in the biological significance of heredity, and above all, like Hannele,
the tragedy of being ill-born. And most poignant perhaps of all, drawn
more than once from his own experience, but universalized and coolly
and impersonally studied in the approved attitude of the sociologist, is
the story of the pain of those unsympathetically mated, and for want of
understanding driven to lonely tragedy. It is not in ill-starred lives that
Hauptmann finds the tragedy of failure. The fault is not in our stars, it
is in ourselves, our inherited behavior patterns, our nerves and ganglia
and glands.
But if Hauptmann sees with the merciless eye of the scientist, in
his sensuous response he is all poet. He understands with the
accompanying thrill of every peripheral nerve and the rich sympathy
that such sensuous understanding gives. This is nothing more than to
say that he in his own person lives more concretely and completely
each of his dramatic situations than do most objective artists. It is this,
whether one likes the play or not, that makes Die Weber so
unforgettable an experience.
All the materials of a cool, scientific, sociological
treatise(40)are here. The scene is laid at the beginnings of the new
industry in Silesia. The piece-work, hand-loom weavers are gradually
being exterminated by the new power looms. The distracted capitalist is
as hard put to it as the poor workers to make ends meet; only with him
the distress is not, as with them, hunger and utter degradation. All the
details that a modern case worker would enter into his notebook, all the
pertinent and impertinent questions he would askdiet, hours of sleep,
hours of work, hygiene, fuel, disease, and health--everything is here,
and as concrete as any vivid imagination could require. Take that scene
of the poor starving old man, Baumert, who had not tasted meat for two
years. In a frenzy of hunger his family killed and boiled their pet dog,
but it was an unhappy experiment. 'For once a fellow has fed on

something good, and then finds he can't keep it down.' It is a cause for
All this is in excellent keeping with the tradition of what we
have learned to call naturalism. Naturalism is nothing particularly new
in literature; it was only the emphasis given to it by Zola and others that
made it for so long a dominant interest in fiction and the drama. Nor is
its influence by any means dead today. It strove only to bring literature
within the domain of the exact sciences, to make its studies of human
nature accord perfectly with the findings of science, and thus use the
pages of the novel, or the scenes of a play, as a laboratory where, with
characters and situations carefully and scientifically 'measured,' their
actions and reactions could be controlled and studied and the results
recorded as so much more added knowledge for human edification and
To be sure, as in Zola, and again as here in The Weavers, the
examples of human nature and the human situations are anything but
sweet and attractive. But neither are the samples of diseased tissue the
pathologist puts under the microscope in his laboratory. To study the
things that make for health one must know, and intimately, the forces
that make(41)for disease. That the naturalist seemed to prefer to go to
the so-called lower and depressed classes, the flotsam and jetsam of
society, as does Gorky, the malodorous and unmusical ones, whose
presence is a reproach and a menace to human nature itself, this
slumming habit is due to no special fondness for ugliness and filth, any
more than is the surgeon's addiction to the pathology of cancer. If the
social ailment is to be cured it must be studied and understood. A love
of health demands it, and the resources of science alone make the study
Hauptmann's weavers have become what they are because of a
faulty environment, which again has given them a faulty heredity. They
are misshapen and in pain, and utterly inadequate, because like seeds
they have been cast upon stony ground and their end is as inexorable as
a tragedy. How shall one pass a moral judgment when will and
character are atrophied at birth? Inadequate nourishment, a brutal
routine of ineffective work--the biological, sociological investigator
can multiply the charges, as does Hauptmann's indictment, until moral
indignation is red hot. So proceeds also the propagandist's program for

reform by means of publicity. And this use of the novel and drama for
publicity and reform was in the minds of many naturalists, including
Hauptmann. Some years before The Weavers was written he pleaded
the cause of those below the level of humanity.

their life that is their resentment, and the craving for something richer
and more satisfying. This the old Hilse ironically finds in the comforts
of religion and a trust in the world to come. Ironically--for as the words
of peace are on his lips a stray bullet finds its mark and ends his prayer.
It is no wonder that when the play was produced its name was a
scandal. For its cry is not alone against man-made institutions and
human injustice. It is against a world yet incomplete in the making,
from human embryos demanding life's fulfilment and denied its
opportunity. For their last act of revolt and burning was as futile and
embryonic a gesture as their earlier and monotonous weaving.(43)
The call for full, free, joyous, creative activity, and the
attainment of peace, but how fleeting its vision, this seems the central
theme of Hauptmann's whole literary career. Perhaps more than in any
other play he has written himself into Gabriel Schillings Flucht
(Gabriel Schilling's Flight) and Die Versunkene Glocke (The Sunken
Bell). Curiously these two plays are almost perfect complements, both
approaching the same theme, but from opposite directions. And both
record with perfect, scientific accuracy the story of frustration.
Gabriel Schilling is an artist--how many of Hauptmann's
characters like him are artists, sensuous, refined, sensitive, dismayed by
the crude complexity of the world in which they are forced to live? And
to him have happened--one can't use a term that might imply design or
choice--two women. One Eveline, his wife, a pathetic zero, clinging,
affectionate, and suffocating; the other Hanna, a vampire, eager and
poisonous. In his sensitive weakness he can resist neither except by
flight. So now he is on the shores of the Baltic with his more aggressive
and competent friends Murer and Lucie, who both have arrived at a
compromise and truce with life. Both know just how much to give,
within their limitations, and will not gamble for more. Both decide to
save their genius friend, and take him to a region where again he can
breathe in freedom and regain his lost creative power. It will be Greece,
that antique home of full and serene human nature. There life can be
safely quaffed without tomorrow's dry headache.
But over the scene hovers always the moody, half-supernatural,
brooding, morbid specter of the sea. Nearby is the ghost of a wrecked
ship, with its figure-head of a woman in a wind-blown garment, the
ewig weiblich, that has wrecked the life of the painter. And beyond, a

Ich schlage mich zu dem, der Unrecht leidet, Und kmpfe gegen
dem, der Unrecht tut.
'I fight for him who suffers injustice, and against him who is
unjust.' But if this were all, this rise of one's moral temperature, that
one gained from this play, its power would diminish with our
knowledge that yesterday in Western Europe and America the battle of
the weavers was being won.
No, it is not as a vision of a sociological abyss that the(42)play
is an acting masterpiece after these fifty years. Each of the characters of
these distracted and suffering weavers here presented is an einsame
Mensch, a lonely soul, groping after a dreamed of and lost happiness, a
restless spirit alone and craving a boon that is ever denied; and each
sensuously conscious of the ache for which he can find no name. They
seem embryos of things that should become, but by the very unfitness
of their nature are forever denied. Curious as it seems, these dumb halfcreated beings are in spirit allied to all the lonely souls that are the
heroes of his plays; and a witness to the craving that is the poet Gerhart
Hauptmann himself.
For it is not against specific situations that these characters are
revolting. Nor are they looking for specific formulas, as they would be
were their creator merely a sociologist:
There is judgment in the wind! Make no comrades of the rich
and proud. There is judgment in the wind. The God of
This distress of the Baumerts and their neighbors the Hilses; the
feline rage of Louise, the wife and young mother who leads the
attacking weavers against the world that is their foe; the enthusiasm of
the young Jaeger and Baecker, who have seen a corner of the world and
now come back to preach 'bloody justice'--it is the brutal cruelty of

graveyard with its wall guarded by a forlorn juniper, all part of an

ancient monastery, with 'impressive but almost wholly crumbled walls.'
It(44)is no wonder they dream of Greece and scenes less chilling. Into
this scene come Eveline and Hanna to reclaim the man for whom both
have sacrificed. The scene of the meeting of the three is one of the most
revolting in its naked banality in all literature. Each has been more
sinned against than sinning. There is no moral, only the rival cries of
the birds of prey and of the quarry.

with their youthful, sensuous, and joyous innocence. She it is who will
give to Heinrich a new and vital motive for life and art, and a new
religion that will need all nature for its fruition. There is the
Waldschrat, the Faun, full of spontaneous life, the male counterpart of
Rotendelein, but mischievous and untrustworthy, hating asceticism and
the sound of churchbells, and gleefully telling of his prank in losing for
the bell maker the fruits of his labor in the depths of the mountain lake.
There is also the Nickelmann, elemental spirit of darkness, sinister,
whose dwelling is in the depths of the well, and who aspires for the
hand of Rotendelein. From these two contradictory regions come the
motives that harass, revive, and finally destroy the artist.
The story is simple enough. Heinrich, distressed at the loss of
his bell and his hope, in a delirium wanders away into the mountains.
These are unfamiliar regions, but he needs help and rest. He meets and
is charmed by Rotendelein, and she guards him against the invading
lower world in the person of the Pastor, the Barber, and the
Schoolmaster, by putting about him a magic circle--'Bleibe dein, und
dein und Mein'--Be thine own, thine own and mine. He returns to the
village ill and despaired of; with the loss of his work he has lost the
motive for life. But Rotendelein, in spite of the warnings of her foster
mother, Wittichen, comes for him, throws wide the windows, and with
a song of joy carries him away to the mountains and freedom. It is a
new inspiration, the magic touch of youth and beauty and the
awakening of a richer love for a life in nature. So he sets to work anew.
It will be a bell this time to set upon the mountain peak, calling the
universe to a new religion of joy in(46)nature, of man's ecstatic return
to his once spontaneous harmony.

The loathsomeness of it all is throttling me! Give me poison --a

strong poison!
And at its conclusion the harassed and now demented artist
plunges into the sea and swims out far beyond hope of return.
If there is something peculiarly individual and unnecessarily
revolting in the predicament of the harried artist, the play of Die
Versunkene Glocke proposes a universal allegory. The world of the
commonplace--and the commonplace is the world--always looks
askance at the artist who would transcend its code. Hauptmann had
himself felt its chains and its rebuke. Though the form of this play is an
allegory, and many of its characters are drawn from German fairy lore,
the theme has nothing but a contemporary reference, and its bitterness
is that of the poet who had himself known the dilemma of the counter
claims of spontaneous freedom and conformity.
The chief character is Heinrich, the bell founder, the artist,
Everyman, who would be free and creatively active. The world in
which he finds himself is divided into two mutually incompatible
regions, the mountains, unrestrained and full of mystery, and the valley,
the home of domesticity and conventional human dignity. So we have
in the latter his wife Magda and their children and neighbors, the
Schoolmaster, learning, the Barber, trade, and the Pastor, religion. The
world above is more interesting, and more dangerous. There is the
Witch Wittichen who holds converse with (45)elemental spirits, and
three spirits, beneficent, mischievous, and sinister--but all mysterious.
There is the beautiful Rotendelein the naive spirit of youth, health, and
beauty, an elfish figure with her budding feminine charm. Time and
again Hauptmann will dwell on these symbols of awakening beauty

It sings a song, long lost and long forgotten, A song of home--a

child-like song of Love, Born in the waters of some fairy well-Known to all mortals, and yet heard of none.
But the world below, and its old conformities, will not allow
this peace to continue. The Pastor returns, threatens, and departs with a
The bell will toll again, Think on me.

And even after a victory over the villagers, as the bewildered

Heinrich stands looking down toward the valley, he catches a glimpse
of his two little boys staggering upward to meet him carrying between
them a cruse of their mother's tears. The bell from the bottom of the
meer begins to toll. Heinrich goes back.
One more vision he is to have of his inspiration, but at a tragic
cost. Crippled now in body and mind he returns to the mountains. The
well is deserted--Rotendelein has married the Nickelmann--even nature
has suffered. He calls for her, but is answered only by the Waldschrat
and the hag, Wittichen. Then from the well comes her sad song begging
him to go. Who is he? he is asked. It is a question he has often asked
Yes! Who am I? God wot How often have I prayed to Heaven
to tell me. Yet this I do know: whatso'er I be Hero or weakling,
demi-god or beast-- I am the outcast child of the bright sun.

recognized their old king and master in this flotsam beggar-- his
ancient nurse and his dog. But how competent he is withal, how selfcontained and wise, how resolute and cunning, as he goes about the
slow business of counting his resources, until the moment when he has
them all at his command and his numerous enemies are least
suspecting. Then how swiftly he strikes, and surely--this long-pondered
revenge, with the sweet aftermath, his glad reunion with his patient and
long-anticipating Penelope.
Homer tells the best romantic story in the world. But can it ever
hope to win the approval of the man of science? What effect would the
long years of strife and danger and despair have upon the personality of
even the sternest and strongest, as was Ulysses? Can a mind, even the
most self- possessed, look upon the wars in which gods participated,
upon the grisly horror of a Cyclops, feel the breath of Scylla(48)as it
devoured his shrieking mates, battle with Poseidon and the sea, hear the
witchery of Sirens, taste the glamour of Circe, and be proof against the
beguilements of the nymph Calypso--can such a man come home with
firm mind and unshaken nerves? Is not, were the truth known, Homer,
the prince of romancers, lacking somewhat in truth to the essential
frailty of human nature?

Now he is helpless and without work. To see her he must drain

three goblets, the last of which will also bring death. And at the last
there is the fleeting vision and recognition and her words:(47)
Farewell! Farewell! never can be thine! Once I was thy true
love--in May, in May.

And Penelope, abandoned when a bride by her husband, beset

by temptation and perplexity in the home of strangers, sought by all the
eligible for her hand and estates, is not her patience, and fortitude, and
faith rather a symbol of the human ideal than a thing likely or possible?
Telemachus, too, the son, the baby at the breast when the father left for
the wars, kept aloof from the doings of men, raised by women, and ever
in terror of open and secret enemies-- would Telemachus be the son of
his father, as Homer pictures him, standing at the hero's side, unafraid,
and exchanging spears with the enemy?

One more play, to dispel the illusion that greatness in life, and
peace, and freedom of spirit may be found in the world as it is, and for
this Hauptmann version of the return of Ulysses--Das Bogen des
Odysseus (The Bow of Ulysses). The Homeric account of the return of
Ulysses after his long absence is rightly romantic and meets every
approval except one--the approval of the psychiatrist. How well Homer
has told the story of the man, 'of many devices, who wandered full
many ways after he had sacked the sacred citadel of Troy. Many were
the woes he suffered in his heart upon the sea' (Tr. by A. F. Murray).
Much did he learn and much did he suffer in the acquiring of his
wisdom. Ten long years of the horrors of the war before Troy. Ten
longer years of wandering with their accumulation of danger, despair,
and romance. Then cast up by the sea, alone, and a stranger on the
dubious shores of his native land, where there were only two who

The answer, as Hauptmann gives it in his version of the story, is

not so flattering to human nature as is the answer of Homer. But is it
more nearly true? Ulysses is wistful and wavering, strong in the
moment of decision but swept by strange fancies and vision--never an
attractive personality, sometimes even grotesque. And Penelope--we
never see her, for she remains a myth--has she remained faithful? The

and Der Ketzer von Soana (The Heretic of Soana). Here we have a
contrast between the ideals of early Christianity as Hauptmann fancied
them, and those of ancient pagan, nature-loving Greece, again as the
poet's imagination pictures the blessed golden age. The world of spirit
at odds with the world of nature--is this the eternal conflict, Christ and
Pan? There is an old story that in the reign of Tiberius on the day of
Christ's nativity there went forth a(50) voice proclaiming, 'Pan is dead.'

suitors jest about her, with more than one sinister hint. Was she worth a
life's adventure of a hero like Ulysses? Would their final reunion after
all the years of doubt and the final deluge of blood, bring peace and
ultimate freedom? Homer leaves a trifle of doubt, but the question for
Hauptmann answers itself. And with this answer of science to the
oldest romance in the world goes the last great illusion, the romantic
illusion of perfect happiness. The poverty-stricken Baumerts, the
sensitive artist Schilling, the divided in allegiance Heinrich, the
aggressive hero Ulysses--and there are a hundred others in the long
panorama of unfinished humanity (49)in Hauptmann's gallery--are all
of the stuff of common humanity, incomplete, bungled creations, as of
an amateur god playing with flawed clay images, into which somehow
he had breathed something of his own desire for creation. The result for
the images is always aspiration and tragedy.

The young priest, who became the heretic of Soana, like some others in these
later days, found the god very much alive. Nor is the spirit of the Christ dead,
even in this day of science and industry, as we discover in the mission of
Emanuel Quint, the Fool in Christ. But both priest and fool discovered also

Hauptmann had long been interested in the life of Christ,

striving to correct the devout narrative of the Gospels by a more
accurate study of the psychology and behavior of Christ and his early
disciples. He did an earlier study entitled The Apostle, not quite
convincingly, and then later followed it by this longish novel. It is a
picture of the life of the spirit, not wholly unsympathetic, and an
appraisal of what Christ's life and his influence would be in a section of
society today. There are the same mystic visions, the same ecstasy of
love for all created things, the same desire to die that human nature
may live, the same despising of the vanities of this world, the same
ascetic denial of appetite, even of the consolation of music, the same
temptations in the wilderness and the same victory, and above all the
same superhuman power to love those that despitefully use you--in
short the same triumphant effort to live the beatitudes and through them
to gain everlasting peace.

Sidney Smith, the English humorist, once remarked that 'life is a

comedy to one that thinks and a tragedy to one that feels.' The tragedy
of Hauptmann is that he feels so keenly the essential and fatal
discrepancy of the clay images. 'Gott Zerschellte an dein Engel, den er
schuf' (Kaiser Karls Geisel (Emperor Charles's Hostage).
God shattered the angel whom he created. The comic spirit, as it
ponders this discrepancy of man's angelic pretensions and banal life,
finds in it cause for laughter. But Hauptmann feels the flawed angel
also in himself, and shudders at the fate that is not of man's own
making. This is his 'endlessly posed problem of human destiny.' And
this destiny is the paradox of an inner necessity that forever urges for
larger and freer action and harmony and peace, and an outer necessity
that forever thwarts. It is a malicious power of evil ever at war with
man's good, and in the combat man is forever impotent. Man thus is
also forever irresponsible, and to search for moral issues is a vain
intellectual pursuit. Even this last reproach, if felt deeply enough, in
itself is sufficient cause for tears.

In the novel there are the sequence of parallels with the life of
Christ. The baptism by Brother Nathaniel, who is the voice in the
wilderness that proclaimed the coming, but who, too, like John the
Baptist, deserted the Messiah when he came. There is the same
gathering of the humble disciples one fool begets another': Peter,
James, and John, also Judas. The same proclamation that he is the son
of the Father, of God and of man. Like Jesus he is the son of a
carpenter and despised by his own people, but loved and passionately
followed by the poor and the women and children. There is the anger at

Perhaps none of his works will make this more clear than a
comparison of two of his novels, companion pieces, though they were
written about a decade apart--the Narr in Christo (The Fool in Christ),

the false commerce in the temple and its cleansing. And finally there is
the perfect parallel of the serenity of the last supper, when he is
surrounded by his disciples,(51)the unwitting betrayal, the trial, and at
last the lonely Fool, forsaken by his disciples, and his mysterious
disappearance and death.

wilderness of ice there(52) was found on him nothing but a scrap of

paper, with the unanswerable question, 'the mystery of the kingdom?'
No peace but a slamming of doors for him who sought the path
of peace in the realm of true spirit, and bewildered loneliness and
death, and the unanswered question of human happiness. Will the other
road, that chosen by the heretic of Soana be more propitious? The
healing power of nature, and above all of those most majestic and silent
powers of nature, the mountains. At first their severe heights and their
draperies of torrent, wood, and cloud are austere and forbidding to
them who have always lived in patterned and complaisant valleys. But,
'if one can rightly speak of such a thing as mountain sickness, then with
no less right may one speak of a condition that comes to persons on
mountain heights, and which can best be described as health.' And so
the young priest that became the heretic found the religion of pure
nature and health.

Does the novelist give a fair picture of the life of the Christ of
history in this contemporary parallel? The question arises naturally, but
is here beside the mark. This is Hauptmann's picture of one who, in the
manner of the Christ, attempts to banish the ugliness and the pain of
this world by turning like a child to God and living the life of pure
spirit. It is one avenue of possible escape. Can man pay the price, and
will the road lead to happiness and peace?
How completely Emanuel Quint gave himself to the life of the
Saviour. 'He fell asleep--when he slept--over Jesus' footsteps.' And yet
like the Jesus of the gospels he preserved also a certain natural dignity,
the dignity of complete assurance and knowledge. He knew the
homelessness of the spirit, in this world, and the pain that its devotion
entails. 'Everyone wanders who is born of the spirit, homeless, with no
fixed abiding place, without wealth, without a shelter, without a wife,
without a child, with nowhere to lay his head.' Yes this 'unity in spirit
with Jesus' became his true life, and, like the Messiah, this union 'filled
him with a hot insatiable craving to pour out that love, even though his
blood flowed with it.'

Francesco, a young priest, is sent to his first cure, a village at

the foot of the Italian Alps. He quickly gains a reputation for studious
piety and ascetic devotion to his pastoral labor. The neighbors adore
him, and he passes in his visitation from hut to hut, quite unmindful of
the world of nature by which they are surrounded. Like the Pastor in
The Sunken Bell he has one and only one mission, to rescue the fallen
and to discharge his priestly obligation. Suddenly he hears of a family-the rumor is they are sister and brother, the Scarabotas, and a brood of
unnatural children--living on the heights, quite without benefit of
clergy. And true servant of Christ, he sets out to bring in the lost sheep.
It is a shock to him, the unconventional heights, and the labor of
climbing; but it is early spring, and nature is in labor to produce new
life. All about him is 'a speaking, painting, composing world of
wonder,' a thing he had never known before. It is a region untouched by
the hand of man and an ascetic denial, as below, where each little
elevation, lest it provoke pagan associations, is crowned by a little
church, by whose bells the(53)powers of nature are held at bay. For
towering above him now is the inaccessible Generoso, the menacing
and yet beckoning finger of nature. He is troubled.

Like the primitive Son of Man his was a revolt against a world
that was unlovely and unloving, a world held together by force and
whose symbol was the hang-man. 'The mystery of the kingdom is
peace,' but it was a peace that this world could not give. So even the
followers of Quint were dismayed, as were the first apostles, who
looked for the New Coming and the Millennium. 'Man is the temple of
God,' and they wanted an earthly temple and an earthly empire. So like
Jesus, he was rejected by the world, and his last experience was the
slamming of doors. 'Everywhere he had nothing but the same slamming
of doors to report to his Father in Heaven.' And at his lonely death in a


He is no less troubled when he meets the ill-mated family. For

there is a daughter, Agata, a true child of the joy of nature, a
Rotendelein, yet with no supernatural allurements. It is she and nature
at the spring that call him back to the sensuous joy of sheer living, to
the thrill of the senses, and the wisdom in the cult of Eros. 'You know
that Eros is older than Chronos and more mighty.' For Eros is nature.
'Rather would I pray to a living goat or a living bull, than to one
hanged upon the gallows.' Here is a new life and a new adoration and a
new joy. 'Hunger here was satiety, satiety hunger.' 'His sensations were
full of idolatry.'

He was banished with its anathemas and became the heretic, the lonely
one of the mountains. Peace purchased at the price of pure solitude may
have its compensations, but its price is a heavy one, and it offers no
solution to the problem of contemporary life, save through denial and
escape. Thus Hauptmann feels again the age-old dichotomy between
the world of sense and of spirit. In this again he seems almost
medieval. If Francesco seems like an Anthony who fell before the
temptations of the Devil, Emanuel Quint is Saint Francis who chose the
straight and narrow way of hardship and love. And to Hauptmann both
were incomplete. But like Nietzsche this later German ascribes the
coming of this dilemma to the advent and triumph of Christianity.

Union with Agata--union with the symbol of the eternally

creative joy of nature. 'Francesco was no longer Francesco. Like the
first man, he was newly awakened by the breath of God, a lonely
Adam, a lonely lord of the Garden of Eden.' For it was not of evil that
the fruit of the garden made him poignantly aware, as the first Adam,
but of life itself, the coursing blood of his arteries, the tingle of the
nerves, the softness of the caress of Agata's love. 'It was the fruit of the
Tree of Life, and not of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
with which the serpent tempted Eve.'

Is there a way out? Can man again, as in the days of ancient

Greece perhaps, discover the secret of the full and harmonious life?
Has the new complex of civilization and its more complex creeds made
the search for freedom and peace impossible? All of his novels and
dramas are a cry raised in this wilderness, a cry for escape, a nostalgic
longing for the forever lost Garden of Eden, of which man catches only
a fleeting glimpse in his dreams. It is curious, too, how youthful all his
characters are, even the old men, for youth is the age of sensuous
longings and ideals, before the evil days come when life is only a
succession of dreary routine and one can say, 'I take no pleasure in
them.' Even old Mathias Clausen, the seventy year old Geheimrath, in
the play Vor Sonnenuntergang (Before Sunset), written in the poet's
own seventieth year, asserts his youthful right to warm himself in the
sun's radiance. But his world of sons and daughters and sons-in-law
and daughters-in-law see his wish as the crowning(55)folly of senility.
Entbehren sollst du, sollst entbehren. And it is against this doctrine of
renunciation that Hauptmann raises his ever youthful protest.

Return to the pagan simplicity of the physical life, as it was

once known in Ancient Greece, and the harmony of personality that
comes as its reward? There is much in Hauptmann that seems to long
for the naive joy in life that is sometimes ascribed to the fortunate age
of golden classical Greece. We catch it in Gabriel Schilling, we see it in
a series of exquisite nature sketches and pictures of the natural man in
Griechischer Frling (Spring in Greece). But were the Greeks of the
Parthenon and Oedipus the King and Plato's Republic as naive as our
nostalgic dreamers of a once golden age fancy? Was the Socrates of the
Phaedrus, who joyed as he bathed his feet in the brook and listened to
the breath of(54)spring, a naive child of nature, giving himself in
unrestraint to every natural impulse?

In how many of his stories and plays there is the naive

character, a woman, like Ibsen's Hilda in The Master Builder, who
seems supernaturally unaware of life's complexity and conflict, and by
her very nature divinely created to restore to man his lost oneness with
nature. Rotendelein, Agata, the sea-woman of the Meerwunder,
characters that call man away from the 'hocus-pocus of human intellect
and unsatisfying chaos,' and yet, because man can never escape, are

Be the answer to this question what it may, the experience was

as tragic to Francesco as the other answer was to Emanuel Quint. For
against him and his apostasy the community turned with savage fury.

always the poignant cause of tragedy. If these are the Eves of the new
Gardens of Eden, they are the cause likewise of much suffering, for the
angel of this 'hocus-pocus world' stands with drawn sword guarding
against entry into new Edens.

crisis. He still keeps his place in the Academy. I wonder if he listens to

the official promises of a regenerate future. Certainly Hitler can ignore
him as one more of the futile and impotent intellectuals.(57)

But perhaps, the quarrel of the age with this poet, like his
quarrel with the age, is that he insists upon seeing life and human
character piecemeal, never with the large horizon that one saw in
Goethe and we shall see in some later, like Thomas Mann. It is always
the fragmentary man, like the crippled artist, or the spiritual Fool, who
mistakes his own disability and longing for cosmic law; and always the
fragmentary situation, the peasant village community, where life has
become fossilized, or the watering place from which life has been for a
moment banished. The inner dramas of these individuals, as the outer
of these situations, poignant though they may be, are not quite


'The moment! Canst thou understand the power of its now? For every
moment of our life is by its essence irreplaceable: therefore learn
betimes to give it heed.'
'Nathanael, throw away my book. Do not think that your truth
can be found by some one else--Throw away my book: Say to yourself
that this is only one of the thousand possible attitudes toward life.
Search out your own.'

In really great tragedy, as in the Greek or again in Shakespeare,

yes, and as in some of today, how splendidly equipped the characters
are for life, how sound and admirable. It is the malicious and ironical
untowardness of the situations in which Hamlet and Oedipus are
thrown that is their tragedy and splendid vindication. Without tragedy
they would never have discovered their own excellence. Against them
Hauptmann's most tragic figures are flawed and peering (56) children
who could never prosper--no, not even in a Garden of Eden built
according to their own desire. There is an alternative even more
painful: to Hauptmann the contemporary world can no longer breed
wholesome figures, like Oedipus or Hamlet. It is a world yet in the
process of creation and characters are only embryos. As a consequence,
is the tragedy of this pitiful and poignant and yet futile embryo all that
the world deserves or can hope for? Is it for his insistence on seeing life
only as a personal adventure and the story of the crippled individual,
crippled before his birth, that Hauptmann has been so singularly
unresponsive to the new regime in Nazi Germany, or fitted into it
without protest? In the last war he signed the famous manifesto, then
lapsed into silence. So far as published records go he has neither
approved nor disapproved the several acts of the drama now at its


'He who loves his life . . . shall lose it: but he who shall lose it shall find
it truly full of life--to him shall be assured the life eternal in the future-but he shall find eternity now even in the present.'
'What peace! Here truly time is no more. Here breathes eternity.
We enter into the Kingdom of God.'
THE MOMENT,' 'by its essence irreplaceable,' 'therefore learn to give
it heed.' 'What peace! Here truly time is no more.' 'We enter into the
Kingdom of God.' These phrases borrowed from two quite different
books of Andr Gide, though they involve a paradox, are strangely
reminiscent of a compact once made by Goethe's Faust. For it was upon
the unattainableness of precisely this ecstasy of the moment, the

discovery of ultimate peace and entire satisfaction, that Faust wagered

his soul. And it was precisely this perfect intoxication when time ceases
and the soul cries out, 'Linger awhile, so fair thou art,' that
Mephistopheles, Faust's counterpart, was unable to supply. Is Andr
Gide a twentieth-century Faust who lost the wager to a twentiethcentury Mephistopheles?(59)

pilgrim's progress of the now almost outmoded theory of evolution and

of its faith in human perfectibility.
The City of Destruction from which Gide flees is the patterned,
routined, expected, complacent orthodoxy of the(60)late-lamented
century. Like Bunyan's pilgrim, Gide flees with eyes averted and
fingers in his ears against its cries and allurements. 'The horror of rest
and comfort, of all that threatens life with diminution, torpor, sleep,
that is what makes him rend asunder walls and arches.' Like Faust's, his
life is one long Odyssey of wandering, of ceaselessly beating his wings
toward the horizon of the heavenly city. And the episodes are recounted
in the soties, recits, and his one roman, the half-satirical criticisms of
contemporary life, the examinations that he subjects his own life to,
and the one novel of self-realization by which he professed to round out
his career. What is the promised land that he so longs to discover?

George Santayana we called the twentieth-century Hamlet, if

one may borrow the German formula for Shakespeare's hero, the
delicate sceptic, able to discover a refuge from the brawl of an
uncongenial world only in the mansions of beauty and pure thought.
The tragedy of Santayana's hero was due to the practical demand of his
animal faith, that he leave his security and play a role in a banal and
unyielding world. Andr Gide is Faust; he too has his Mephistopheles;
and like his Goethian predecessor he has devoted now a long life to
resolve a paradox. To Oliver the result was tragedy; to Andr Gide it
seems to be serious comedy. Oliver almost from the beginning is the
adult; Gide, the eternal adolescent.

As for Faust, the answer is, the promised land is himself. As

intimately personal as any of our contemporaries, all of Gide's work is
his effort at a perfect autobiography. It would be an interesting subject
for some kind of academic research to inquire into the contemporary
addicts to autobiography. All seem to be writing or reading accounts of
the inner symptoms of an age in discomfort. It is the heyday of
confessions and super-confessions. In previous centuries-- barring an
exceptional few--people in distress told their father-confessors or their
physicians. Today they broadcast to the world. He tells us the story in
all its inner details of his paradox and the quest for its solution. His
childhood had been set in the and stability of a puritan, Protestant
family, with its rigid ascetic code: formal discipline, formal conduct.
To the good nineteenth century, life was stable and secure--at least in
theory. The game of life seemed not unlike a game of chess, with its
formal and inexorable board, sixty-four squares, black and white, and
the thirty-two pieces, black and white, each according to its kind, kings,
queens, bishops, pawns, and each with its own prescribed action. Only
long reflection and discipline can master the rules of the game, and
only the master can play it to success. Such was the world in which the
young Gide learned to play at living.

Gide the Faust of the twentieth century. The parallel deserves

study. Goethe's hero, a recluse after years of arid scholarship, at last
discovered the emptiness of the life of syllogism and theory, of
questions to which there was no answer, of masks hiding no reality.
With despair at his elbow, knowing the full risk of his adventure, and
trusting his unquenchable thirst, he closes his compact with the ironic
Mephistopheles. Every desire shall be satisfied, he will drain the cup of
life to the lees:
If e'er upon my couch, stretched at my ease, I'm found, Then
may my life that instant cease! When to the moment I shall say, 'Linger
awhile, so fair thou art!'
Can human nature, itself a thing of Eternity, find Eternity in the
moment? And Goethe, with the fine faith of the early nineteenth
century, makes of Faust the allegory of all human nature, whose goal is
the ultimate and to whom all lesser satisfactions can serve only to
quicken the infinite thirst for the yet unattainable. Goethe Faust is the

Then suddenly, with a flash that to him seemed like inspiration,

all took on a new and spontaneous life and movement (61). In his
autobiography Si le Grain ne meurt (If It Die . . .), he tells of his
childish fascination for the kaleidoscope and its colored
unexpectedness--a 'nouveaut perpetuelle,' a 'prismatique diversit.' It
is as though the chessboard of life and the chessmen, as in Alice in
Wonderland, suddenly became full of life and incalculable movement.
The pieces respond no longer to the accepted rules, but are filled with
unexpected and spontaneous urges. Even the external signs by which
we know them suddenly become altered, and they appear as
unannounced strangers, filled with unuttered cravings. The purpose of
the game no longer is conventional success or failure, comedy or
tragedy, but the sheer joy of eternal movement. Andr Gide broke with
rules and fixed values, as Faust walked out from his study, and gave his
ear to the spirit of the flux, the new Mephistopheles.

and fixed codes and patterns by which once we measured man's nature
and destiny? And above all, what becomes of reason, the faculty of
man's mind that insists on seeing things in fixed and abiding
relationship? Does not reason by its very nature arrest the flow, give
the lie to all reality?
Is it not wiser, better, to trust the instinct, a faculty of the mind
also, but deeper and more intimate than the reason, and more
spontaneous? It never thinks abstractly of laws and generalities and
types. It deals only with life in the raw, the concrete and immediate
moment, full of sentient power and fluid with movement. This
expresses with far more truth the lan vital, the urge of life itself.
Welling up from the unsuspected depths of personality, it defies reason
and logic, and speaks a language that is the only dialect of the
unspoiled soul. It imparts its uniqueness to every living thing, discovers
the secret of the moment, and makes of each a thing unique, and its

These two have never parted company. What does this mean? It
is a revolution as thoroughgoing in the life of Gide, the cloistered
youth, as in that of Faust, the cloistered scholar. For it transforms the
world in which the released individual searches adventure; it
transforms likewise the adventurous spirit. It makes of life a new
double adventure; the rediscovery of the world and the rediscovery of
self. And it was upon this thrilling enterprise that the young Gide, when
he first felt himself freed from the home ties, and in the new world of
African sunshine and desert-freedom, threw himself once and for all
time to solve for himself the riddle of life and of living, and to achieve
happiness and peace.

We live only in the instant now of life; all the past in it lies dead
before aught of future in it may be born . . . The moment! Canst thou
understand the power of its now? For every moment of our life is by its
essence irreplaceable, therefore learn betimes to give it due heed . . . I
perceived that this had never been, nor thought, nor said. And forthwith
each single moment appeared an untouched virgin. (All the past of the
world drawn completely into the present moment.)
Such is the first great thought that came to him as a call to life
and an inspiration for living in Les Nourritures Terrestres. It was his
revolt against the old, of ideas, of life, and nature. Early, too, had come
as a sequel the second revolt, that against the reasoned and patterned
codes of conduct.

His first protest is against the old codes and the fixed patterned
world in which he now felt himself suffocated. 'Everything flows,'
, the old Greek philosopher Heraclitus had so taught in
ancient Greece long before modern science with its technique, and the
modern cinema with its art, had learned to think of movement without
fear of vertigo. But the new science has reasserted the flux, and
Bergson, at the beginning of the twentieth century, has given it his
philosophical blessing. If nature is in constant flux, and life is,
why(62)not also human personality; and what then becomes of the old

The morality according to which I had lived up to that time had

recently yielded to a more iridescent vision of life. It began to appear to
me that the duties of each of us was not the same for all, and that God
Himself might hold in horror that uniformity against which nature
protested, but towards which the Christian(63)ideal, in pretending to

check nature, seemed to strain. I would no longer admit any other than
personal moralities, which might at times be diametrically opposed. I
was persuaded that each human being (or at least that all among the
elect) had a role to play on this earth, his only, that resembled none
other's; so that any attempt to surrender oneself to a common rule
seemed to my eyes as treason; yes, treason, and to be likened to that
great sin against the Holy Ghost for which there is no forgiveness, by
which the particular being lost his precise significance, irreplaceable-his 'savor,' that to him could never again be restored.

nature it feels the urge of the lan vital, but it may dam its freedom by
convention and code. However, even to the most orderly come
moments of fullness, when life breaks over the dam and shows its true
nature. Most people wear masks, rigid and formal, to hide even from
themselves this palpitating and fluid essence that dies if too-long
confined. Open the floodgates, renounce code and convention, throw
away the mask, act as instinct directs, and we make the discovery, to
our joy or horror, that we are such stuff as dreams are made on, as
unsubstantial and of eternal movement.

But revolt and refusal to acknowledge any generous similarities

between himself and others carry their own penalty. And Gide suffered,
more than once; as Faust suffered in Part 1 for his break with his old
securities. To Gide it brought an awareness of the desperate loneliness
with which the conventional world always punishes every sensitive and
non-conforming personality. His autobiography, Si le Grain ne meurt,
and his sketches, are full of episodes when this loneliness of spirit
became a physical agony. Here is one from his early childhood:

Only this remains--that reality interests me inasmuch as it is

plastic, and that I care more--infinitely more--for what may be than for
what has been. I lean with a fearful attraction over the depths of each
creature's possibilities and weep for all that lies atrophied under the
heavy lid of custom and morality.
Freed, then, of mask, and the floodgates of life thrown open
wide, with a new knowledge of life and its meaning, of morals and
their cramping evil, and of the exuberant and spontaneous self, Gide
learned quickly to taste the full ecstasy, ferveur, of the joy of living.
This word ferveur becomes for a time the motto of his life.

The scene again took place at table, during an early lunch; but
this time my mother and I were alone. That morning I had been to
school. What had happened there?--Nothing perhaps. Then why, all of
a sudden, was I totally unstrung, and falling into my mother's arms,
sobbing, convulsed, did I feel again this unutterable desolation, the
same exactly as at the death of my little cousin. It was as if, without
warning, the floodgates had been opened of I know not what
encompassing and uncharted inland sea, whose billows surged
immeasurably in my heart. I was more bewildered than sorrowful; but
how could I explain this to my mother, who could distinguish through
my sobs, only the confused words that I repeated in despair: 'I am not
like the others!--I am not like the others!'

Ecstasy! this word I would endlessly repeat; I would have it the

synonym of happiness, and even that it would suffice to mean simply to
be alive . . . It is better to act without asking whether the action be good
or evil. To love without troubling oneself whether it be wise or unwise.
Nathanael, I shall instruct thee in passion . . .
Nathanael, I shall speak to thee of intoxication. Nathanael, often
the simplest satisfaction has for me an intoxication, as great as before
had been the madness of desire. And all that I sought on every side
was, not in the beginning any sort of a refuge but my own craving . . .
To be alive became for me a luxury of the senses. I longed to enjoy all
the levels of life, even that of the fishes and the plants.(65)

Such was this young man's first discovery of life when he had
left the security of home. The world is unstable, the old formal patterns
of life dissolve like cloud-castles of a dream. What now of the
personality, the actor on this kaleidoscopic(64)stage? In essence it is no
less fluid than the world in which it seeks its adventure. Like all living

Splendid--the life so far only of sensuous passion. It will have

other connotations later. But now this appetite, which had been behind

the dam of inhibitions and the decencies of life, suddenly lets go. In a
bitter sotie called the Paludes, he turns with satirical sadism to describe
the marshes, stagnant and full of death, that are the life of the good easy
folk who prefer rest to movement and complacent security to the call of
life. Again is he not the newly released Faust, seeking satisfaction in
the orgy of the senses? Is not the rhapsody of Les Nourritures
Terrestres strangely like that of the uplifted Faust who has just tasted
the sweetness of the young and innocent Margaret? How different her
live caress to the impotence of the unanswerable questions from the
rows and rows of stagnant volumes in his dusty study.

dim, touch fails, 'the salt of the sea does not lose its savor; but my lips
are already too old to taste it . . . Nathanael. Oh satisfy the joy while thy
spirit smiles, and thy desire for love when thy lips are yet sweet in a
kiss, and thy embrace full of joy . . . Oh! if time could only return to its
source! and the past return!' But the past and its joys can never return,
'La lune est prsent cache; le jardin devant moi semble un bassin de
verdure--sanglot; livres series; convictions trop grandes; angoisses de
la pense . . .' The 'pains of thought,' and so the poem ends. Pure
earthly food, though intoxicating at first, and promising complete
happiness, brings its recompense of satiety and the pain of despair.

Spirit sublime! Thou gav'st me, gav'st me all For which I

prayed! Not vainly hast thou turn'd To me thy countenance in flaming
fire: Gavest me glorious nature for my realm, And all power to feel her
and enjoy; Not merely with a cold and wondering glance, Thou dost
permit me in her depths profound, As in the bosom of a friend to gaze .
. . From craving to enjoyment thus I reel, And in enjoyment languish
for desire.

For the claim of that part of our nature we call spirit has its
word at times in the management of life and its values. And this spirit
to Gide in his youth had been associated with the categorical mystery
of God. Man can find that he is an earthly animal with earthly desires
for earthly food in the immediate now; but he can discover too that
there are spiritual appetites that long for the infinite and for
satisfactions that go far beyond the ecstasy of awakened passion. The
desire for holiness. Man must find God; and this means renunciation.
Desire, as with Faust, is the sign of the infinite in man. 'For verily I say
unto you, Nathanael, my every desire has more enriched me than the
possession, always false, of the object itself of my desire.' 'Wherever
thou mayest go, thou canst discover nothing save God. Every act of my
heart's consciousness each day makes me invent God.'(67)

But before long, like Faust, Andr Gide learned that life is not
all a matter of pure sensuous enjoyment. One may, if one will, think of
oneself as the center of the universe. 'Each mind makes of itself a
center, and it is about him that he feels the universe revolves.' Granted
perhaps as true, but one has also other desires than for the mere ecstasy
of nerve and pulse. Man is something more than a moving disk for the
needle of sense--no matter how sweet, as with Gide, is the music of his
response. And Gide was to discover this while the pages of Les
Nourritures Terrestres were yet damp. He was to write not only
L'Immoraliste( The Immoralist)(66)and Numquid et Tu . . .?, but also
La Porte Etroite ( Strait Is the Gate), and a new paradox.

It is my experience that every object of this earth that I covet

becomes less clear, for the very reason that I covet it, and that in the
very moment that I covet it, the entire world either loses its
transparency, or my gaze its clearness, to the extent that God ceases to
be visible to my spirit, and abandoning the creator for the creature, my
spirit ceases to live in Eternity, and loses possession of the Kingdom of

For ecstasy carries its own penalty. It is a mood far too

breathless to be maintained for long. Like all physical intoxication it
has its after effects and next morning's headache and dry despair.
Youth, the season of ecstasy, is brief, brief and fleeting. And Les
Nourritures Terrestres closes with a movement of disillusionment and
even despair. The senses cannot always respond to the thrill, eyes grow

Here is a paradox indeed--the cry of the body for its passionate

gratification and the cry of the disillusioned spirit that can find no
happiness short of God. It was Faust's paradox. And long before Faust,
it was the central theme of Saint Augustine's confessions. To Gide, as

to these others, the resolution of this problem became man's central

duty. 'I began dimly to see that this discordant dualism might be
resolved into a harmony. And suddenly it came to me that this harmony
ought to become my chief aim, and the search to discover it the obvious
motive of my life.' Saint Augustine discovered the ascetic answer, and
closed his senses against the charm of all earthly food. Faust through
art, and wise activity in the world, found a more humane solution.
What will be this twentieth-century answer? The story of this quest in
Gide's life is best told in three of his recits: L'Immoraliste, Numquid et
Tu . . .?, and La Porte Etroite ( Strait Is the Gate). How shall man find
himself and at the same time find God?

instinct, instead of placing barriers against instinct; he learned 'the

complete possibilities of man,' especially those formerly forbidden; he
learned that to be born anew meant to become immoral, as the world
knows morality. So he renounced his culture and scholarship, and
became a child of the senses, obeying only the call of sense and
instinct, deaf to responsibility and choice and the whole life of
deliberated action. For what before had appeared as virtue now
appeared as deadly sin. 'Leaving my brain not abandoned, but fallow, I
turned with ecstasy to myself, to things, to anything, which seemed
divine. . .'
The effect is almost a miracle. He is cured. Back with his wife
he goes to Europe and his old background, but with what a different
motive. He suddenly has discovered, from the frank sensuousness of
the desert, passion in his love for his wife. But with this heed now to
the call of life there has come also a curious unresponsiveness to
others. The tables are turned, and Marceline, who had waited upon him
in his illness too devotedly, is herself stricken with the same ailment. It
is his turn to show devotion; but this is to interfere(69)with the wellings
of life within him, and callously he allows her to die.
Remorse?Perhaps. For he returns to Algiers, and there on the edge of
the desert, surrounded by his Arabs who know no moral law, he lives a
recluse from European inhibitions, and tells his story that he who has
ears to hear may give heed and learn.

L'Immoraliste is as nearly autobiographical as the later Si le

Grain ne meurt. There is a verse in the Bible which serves as its motto.
'He who would save his life shall lose it.' But Gide's interpretation of
this line differs by a whole horizon from the orthodox. The hero,
Michel, is a scholar renowned for his accomplishments even before he
is out of his teens. Then he allows himself complaisantly to be married
to Marceline. He has no passion save erudition, and his wife though
beautiful is almost an irrelevant incident in his severely narrowed
existence. He is all intellect with never a pulse beat to share with any of
the senses. An immature Faust, but his(68)awakening will be with a
difference. The plot is hardly a plot, only a series of situations to permit
the frozen moralist to be transformed into the molten enemy of all

Learn what? That sin is a safer way to perfection than virtue?

For only by sin can man discover his deeper nature, and thus live with
all his faculties a-tingle. That virtue is pride? That virtue is false? For is
it not also a mask that keeps concealed many of the appetencies without
the knowledge of which man can never arrive at perfection? Yes, that it
is necessary even to revel in the dark and sinister, even the worst
instincts, that one may know that they exist, so that through their
ecstasy God may be discovered. For only by their discovery can one
take the next step, renunciation.

And as with Gide himself it takes an illness to play the trick. It

is then that the bars are down, and inhibitions begin to lose their power.
It is then that the nerves begin to palpitate, and the call of life, when
life itself seems threatened, becomes a crescendo. It is the ill, not the
sound, that know the meaning of health. It is the dew of fever that longs
for the cooling finger of the breeze. So it was with young Michel. He
was stricken with tuberculosis, and went, again like Gide, to Algiers
and its unashamed sun and sands and Bedouin. There on the oasis and
on the open desert, where life and nature strike the unprotected nerves
of the body until their insistence cannot be denied, he learned to live,
and learning to live rescued himself for life. He learned surrender to the

What is renunciation? To answer this question we must follow a

pilgrim's progress that takes a strange pathway through Vanity Fair and

the Valley of the Shadow of Death. The old pilgrims, Christian,

Faithful, and Hopeful, learned quickly to close their ears and eyes
against the insistence of Vanity and Despair and Death. Upheld by the
vision of the New Jerusalem, they were blind and deaf to all that might
allure their senses and obscure the vision. They were ascetics who
sacrificed the lesser gratification that their cups later might overflow
with the bliss of Heaven. Not so Gide's pilgrim's progress. 'Lead us not
into temptation'? Quite the contrary. For only by yielding to temptation
can man's power to be tempted and even to fall be tested, and his full,
unique personality discovered. Sin? 'Grant us this day that we fall into
no sin'? 'Deliver us from evil'? Quite the contrary. Of what value is
renunciation if it be not preceded by the full knowledge of all that is
renounced, a knowledge gained not from books of morals and divinity,
but from the peril of life itself?

Gospel - the time has not yet come to speak of that; nor yet of the
lessons I was able to draw until, reading it with newly opened eyes, I
found both letter and spirit suddenly blaze with light. And I was filled
at once with sorrow and indignation at what the churches had done to
this divine message, for in their teachings I recognized only the fewest
of traces.
What is this gospel not taught in the churches that he has now
discovered? Not a gospel of what one shall or shall not do: 'I can find
no precise prohibition and thou-shalt-nots in the letter of the gospel,
rather the duty of fixing one's gaze as clearly as possible upon God.'
'Fixing one's gaze upon God' -- this is Gide's ultimate
renunciation, to learn the illusoriness of the finite and the selfish, and to
seek to dwell in Eternity. The extreme puritan(171)answer to the
question of renunciation Gide had known from his youth. 'Renounce,
renounce is still the word.' Faust also had turned from this stern creed,
and never again returned to it. But to Gide all his life it sounded like a
distant bell calling to prayer. Such is the theme of La Porte Etroite: and
here we feel only too easily how powerful was the summons. It is the
story of a young girl who crushed all spontaneous, earthly love,
renounced all hope of joy in this life, that she might attain perfect
purity and saintliness. But not alone for herself, her lover too was to be
saved from all earthly attachments, that together they might fix their
gaze upon infinity. One must learn to renounce the allurements of sense
for the sake of the greater joy that comes only in the world of the spirit.
So it was also in Gide's own history. He loved his cousin Emmanuele
with no earthly love, and he married her without passion. Was not this
the tribute money he paid to the conscience of early youth?

Then as in L'Immoraliste, renunciation leads to confession,

(70)as Gide himself does in his spectacular Si le Grain ne meurt; a
confession that tells his story to the world, and is itself one more
variety of gratification after earthly food had lost its savor to the now
dull palate. Confession in its turn brings humility, a true humility, that
of exhaustion. And with this humility man's progress is complete and
salvation achieved. No table of public morals can be effective for
human regeneration. For these are but taboos that forbid a man to look
upon his dark side, and the depths of the unconscious remain
unrevealed; they thus unconsciously put a premium upon duplicity; and
finally even forbid the discovery of the equally latent good.
Here is a curious effort to reconcile pagan hedonism and
evangelical Christianity. The effort had troubled him not a little during
his early days. He was to rturn to the theme in his autobiography.

But that debt once paid, this gate was too strait for the
imagination of Gide. His highway of renunciation is a compromise
between the sensuous path of the immoralist and the narrow gate of the
puritan, and for him it led into the immediate experience of God. His
religion is as fluid as his personality, and is his personal adaptation of
the teachings of the Scripture. How can God be discovered and yet the
sensuous thrill of life not lose its sweetness? This question all his life is

For it didn't seem quite enough to break blindly with rules; I

pretended to find some warrant for my intoxication, a logic for my folly
... In truth I could have wished to conciliate everyone, and the most
diverse of points of view, not able to exclude anything and ready to
entrust to Christ the solution of the trial between Dionysus and Apollo
... How and with what transports of love I was able to rediscover the

the Gidian paradox. There is on the one hand the eager acceptance of
life: 'my emotions are like a religion ever alert.' 'It is from complete
forgetfulness of yesterday that I create the freshness of every new
hour.' 'Memories keep badly.' Life is for him ever an alert expectation.

peace that passes understanding, and the last and only true happiness.
"'Quelle tranquillit! Ici vraiment le temps s'arrte. Ici respire
l'Eternal. Nous entrons dans le royaume de Dieu.'" Here each
individual discovers his own salvation, for the experience is as unique
as the individual, as precious, and without formula. At such moments,
as Faust to Mephistopheles, Gide can say, does say, to the passing
moment, 'Ah stay, thou art so fair.' Thus, without reserve the poet joins
the mystics, the men who have known God and not been terrified.

But even this alert and joyous anticipation can be in a measure a

religion. For religion is not static and a thing of formulas and
conventions. It is those who have falsely spoken in its name, the
dyspeptic and morose, who have made it a denial of the joy of living.
Rid Christianity of this austere crew and return to the living Christ.(72)

But this mystical ecstasy is only for the few resolute

individuals(73) who break with convention and rule and can enter upon
the lonely way of self-renunciation. For only in this way can one
discover the richness of reality, self, and the world. But it is not by the
old routine of discipline and self- mortification that this lonely traveler
must proceed. Such was the program set up once by the medieval or
oriental ascetic, to whom instinct was the call of the flesh, and reason
the voice and attribute of God. In the Gidian world the roles are
changed. Each man is his own discoverer, and no one's discovery will
help another. Each has his own inner needs of which he may even not
be aware until instinct has spoken. The fledged soul, newly awakened
to its need of eternal felicity, is like the newly hatched moth, alone in
the darkness of the night, eager and palpitating for the adventure of
discovering its mate. There is danger in the quest, but with its
fulfilment comes the final revelation.

It is more and more apparent to me that many of the ideas

which constitute our Christian faith are derived not from the words of
Christ himself but from the commentaries of St. Paul . . . If I have to
choose between Christ and St. Paul, I choose Christ . . . I search the
Gospel but I seek in vain for commands, threats, prohibitions . . . All
these originate from St. Paul . . . Is it betraying Christ, is it slighting or
profaning the Gospel to discern in it above all a method of attaining a
life of blessedness? The state of joy which our doubts and our hardness
of heart prevent us from realizing, is a condition that is obligatory upon
every Christian.
A state of joy, finding God is the sentient, ecstatic moment, not
in rules of conduct and the formulas of a creed: this is the Gidian
religious life. God is an experience as fluid as the experience of living;
but it requires the achievement of the highest joy of which man is
capable. The mystics found it in the complete state of selfforgetfulness. Such are the times when all personal desires fade, and
even the sense of personal identity. It is only by such self-abnegation
and by loss of all sense of personal advantage or selfish ambition that
one enters into the Kingdom of God.

This is the reason why, throughout, Gide gives full praise to the
acte gratuit, unpremeditated, spontaneous action. It springs from the
inner depths and reveals far more of the true nature of personality than
any premeditation, which, because it has ulterior motives, is false.
Strange forms these acts can take at times. In Les Caves du Vatican
(The Vatican Swindle), for example, the hero traveling at night, in a
lonely compartment of a train with a single unknown companion,
suddenly on the impulse opens the door and hurls the unsuspecting
victim out into the darkness. Time and again in each of his stories the
characters act on impulse in equally unexpected, though not always so
dramatic roles. To be sure they are not normal, but what, asks Gide, is
normal? Is it not normal, on the contrary, to do just such things, when

Such also is the experience of Eternity, not the eternity of the

future and the old doctrine of immortality--on this Gide is noncommittal. Hope for such may be based upon only a selfish desire, and
hence be unworthy. But Eternity in the moment. Before this great
experience all lesser ambitions reveal their futility. With it comes the

the inner urge calls for their performance? To fail to respond is to miss
the cue and thus to begin the deterioration that will ultimately lead to
the tragic loss of the precious essence of reality. The experience of God
can never come in any other way.(74)

writing of the novel, the story of the author's commerce with the
characters and his efforts to understand them?(75)
'If I don't succeed in writing the book, it will be because the
history of the book will have interested me more than the book itself-taken the book's place; and it will be a very good thing.'

The quickest, the most sudden action seemed to me to be the

best. It appeared to me that my action was all the more sincere in that I
was sweeping away before it all these considerations with which I
attempted to justify it at first. Henceforward acting haphazardly and
without giving myself time to reflect, my slightest actions appear to me
more significant since they are no longer reasoned out.

This is exactly what has happened. As Eduard writes again: 'I

invent the character of a novelist,'--and for this Gide had no better
possible figure than himself--'whom I make my central figure; and the
subject of the book, if you must have one, is just that very struggle
between what reality offers him and what he himself desires to make of
it.' As the novel progresses Eduard becomes absorbed in the reality and
its amazing absence of simplicity, though at first the characters seemed
of the simplest texture. In his interest in the complexity and
unexpectedness he loses slowly the desire to make anything of them, or
sees its futility, and with that the novel ends. So the theme develops;
the springs of life are deep, even in the most apparently elementary
characters, boys and girls; and to understand completely, let alone
direct them, is beyond the power of supreme wisdom.

But most people define the normal by the codes and patterns of
reasoned conduct. They wear masks, says Gide, that hide reality even
from themselves. They think of themselves and of others not as living
and fluid, but as of characters with definable traits. They calculate
motives and catalogue values and measure success and failure by the
accepted rules of the game. It was to expose this view of life that he
wrote his one and only novel, Les Faux-Monnayeurs (The
Counterfeiters). It has for its motto a line quoted from Pascal: "'Rien
n'est simple de ce qui s'offre a l'me; et l'me ne s'offre jamais simple a
aucune sujet.'" Life and motives are never quite so clear and definable
as we sometimes naively suppose. He who would understand must first
sympathize and then probe deep.

The allegory of the story is furnished by a counterfeiting effort

for which some of the characters are responsible. The coins, twenty and
ten franc pieces, are apparently of simple gold, they ring true, and pass
without difficulty. But they are only gilded, and if rubbed violently the
gilt comes off exposing the counterfeit. The story, such as it is, is the
successive harsh rubbings that one after another display the unexpected
depths in all manner of apparently downright and simple characters. As
it is with characters, so it is with feelings, motives, and even words that
pass current for true coin. Take this example: it is not the author
speaking, but the character most nearly a villain, but a villain only
because he sees through the mask and gilt to the metal beneath:

Rightly therefore the real hero--the novel has no conventional

hero--is the author himself, Andr Gide, who here calls himself Eduard,
the benevolent uncle, the self-obliterating lover, a novelist also, and a
man who never pronounces judgment. He only observes, analyzes, and
tries to understand. It really is not a novel at all; though it started out to
be the author's only novel and last book. 'I must in order to write this
book well, persuade myself that it is the only novel and the last book I
shall ever write. Without reserve I want to pour into it everything.'
These words from Eduard's journal apply with equal truth to Gide. For
The Counterfeiters was to have been his last work, and it is the only
work that he calls a novel. But is it really a novel, or the history of the

We live upon nothing but feelings which have been taken for
granted once for all and which the reader imagines he experiences,
because he believes everything he sees in print; the author builds on
this as he does on the conventions which he(76)believes to be the

foundations of his art. These feelings ring as false as counters, but they
pass current. And as everyone knows that 'bad money drives out good,'
a man who should offer the public real coins would seem to be
defrauding us. In a world in which everyone cheats, it's the honest man
who passes for a charlatan. I give you fair warning if I edit a review, it
will be in order to prick bladders--in order to demonetize fine feelings,
and those promissory notes which go by the name of words.

Can Gide's ideal of freedom ever be translated into

human(77)institutions? Is not his ideal, like himself, ever fluid and
unpredictable, eternal adolescence searching for itself in the unweeded
garden of its own vagaries? Gide has no formula or advice for the
present insecurity and unrest except the mystic vision, no rule of
conduct except the acte gratuit, and no compensation in living except
in the thrill of the sentient moment and the art that gives it expression.
In his world theology, ethics, aesthetics are almost synonymous. It is
difficult to build a new world, in place of the old he would have us
destroy, out of these unusual ingredients. His state of perfect bliss lies
only in the mythical past, that of Adam alone with God in the spring in
the Garden of Eden. Gide is the ever youthful and ever lonely
individualist. So was Faust until experience had taught him his
limitations. (78)

It is a novel of ideas--'I must confess that ideas interest me more

than men--interest me more than anything.' But ideas can get
themselves understood only through men, if we can read them aright.
And the moral seems to show that life is more incalculable, more
restless, this lan vital, than any ideas we can entertain regarding it.
The 'essence of man's being,' this inner, fluid, personality, how seldom
is it discovered and allowed to act undisturbed. And the loss of it is the
final human tragedy. 'Moral tragedy--the tragedy, for instance, which
gives such terrific meaning to the gospel text; if salt has lost its savor,
wherewith shall it be salted?--that is the tragedy with which I am

'With different persons, we may be quite different individuals. We
cling, however, to the illusion that we remain identical for all persons
and every situation. Nothing could be more false than this illusion, as
we realize when suddenly surprised in the midst of some particular
action. We know that we are not wholly committed and expressed in
this action, and that it would be a cruel injustice if a man were judged
solely upon the strength of it, pinned down perpetually to this particular
moment as if the whole of his life were thereby summarized and made

The tragedy of the lost individual. To escape the banality and

cruelty of modern society, after he had seen its fruit in the oppression
of more primitive races in the Belgian Congo, Gide turned with hope to
the new gospel of Communism,* and to the experiment on a wide scale
in Russia. Something more and interesting could be made of Gide's
conversion to Communism. Basically it is part of his ceaseless
restlessness. But this is not the place to discuss it or its implications. It
seems just one more fresh experiment, like his visit to Algiers, to find a


One visit to Russia was enough. He came back disillusioned. In
another connection we shall hear his warning to a people that in the
name of freedom fasten yet tighter the yoke of conformity. Though still
professing a faith in the ideal of finding freedom in Communism, like
Plato of old, he seems to have lost hope that it can be translated into
reality in this imperfect world.

'A pig is a pig, and that's all; whereas that fellow over there--not
meaning to contradict you--may be a pig, but he's also a lawyer! And
that other one there, he is a pig, but also a notary; and this one coming
now, he's a pig but also a watchmaker. Yes, behind him, a pig, but also
a druggist. A difference, Sir, quite a difference!

'Humanity?Humanity? That's humanity for you! There! You

still recognize it?'

sophistications. And more than any other, Pirandello is sophisticated

and disillusioned and therefore bitter. Like Strindberg he has more than
once exclaimed: 'People clamor for the joy of life and theatrical
managers order farces, as though the joy of life consists in being
foolish--I found the joy of life in the powerful, cruel struggle of life,
and my enjoyment is in discovering something, in learning something.'
(Preface to Lady Julia)


HUMANITY in masquerade. The poet Andr Gide has so seen the life
of today, and the result to him was tragedy, the exchange of reality for
the counterfeit. Pirandello, with the technique of the psychiatrist, also
lifts the mask, but what he sees below brings only the response of
thoughtful, grim comedy.

In the same way Pirandello finds a cruel difference between life

and the ideas people have of life. One of his latest plays, La Trappola
(The Trap), is only an extended harangue on the theme that nearly all of
us are victims in a trap, caught and fixed and 'stagnant' instead of 'free
and fluid.' Rats in a trap, squirrels in a cage. But 'life is the(80)wind,
life is the sea, life is fire, not the earth that crusts over and takes a form.
We are all beings caught in a trap, severed from the flux that never
ceases, and fixed forever by death.' All this may be most excellent
poetry--no doubt it is profoundly moving--it is sophisticated, for no one
without taking thought can arrive at such convictions; but what does it
mean and what are its full implications? What has Pirandello
discovered and learned of life?

Pigs, pigs, below the mask--lawyers, doctors, rich-man,

poorman, beggarman, thief--all pigs, animals all, driven by the lan
vital, and putting on masks to disguise the unrespectable business that
life is. Such is an easy and quick generalization that one is only too
prone to make about Pirandello; and, like all generalizations, it is only
partly true. For Pirandello, though he hated, also loved life, though he
found it ugly he also saw its beauty. 'A man, I have tried to tell
something (79)to other men, without any ambition, except that perhaps
of avenging myself for having been born. And yet life, in spite of all
that it has made one suffer, is so beautiful.' Beauty and suffering--a
paradox that would be curious to a former age, like that of Goethe, that
found true beauty only in serenity, and to which suffering was a means
to a higher happiness.

It is true that life was unkind, almost beyond measure, to this

sensitive Sicilian. To read his biography by Vittorini is to read the story
of a man who almost to the end was a victim, and yet one who at the
beginning seemed to have nothing but happiness as his inheritance. But
others have lost fortunes, been unhappily, even tragically, married, and
have yet refused to make the tragic gesture. There is something more
than fantastic in this man's Last Will and Testament, which required of
his executors that his body be conveyed in a third-class carriage to his
native Sicily and there be given a pauper's burial. One doesn't revenge
oneself on life by calling people pigs and kicking one's corpse into an
unmarked grave--one only gains notoriety. The clue to Pirandello lies
not in his life, but in his age, not in his experiences, but in the
prevailing twentieth-century conviction: that if one will be rightly
curious about it all, and scientifically use the new psychology, one can
come to some paradoxical and interesting theories about oneself, quite
at variance with all accepted notions and beliefs. For our recent science

Raw suffering, suffering that leads nowhere, unless to death,

like the agony of a growing cancer, this, and yet also beauty to one that
has the eye of a physician, the beauty of an open sore, of a malignant
disease. Add to this the conviction that his own untoward fate is the
fate of all that have the misfortune to be born, and we have one very
necessary aspect of the Italian dramatist and writer of fiction, Luigi
Pirandello. There is another dramatist, almost of our generation, and a
greater, who shared not a little of this fate and conviction, Strindberg.
He tasted life in all of its courses, and found its beauty filled with
bitterness. The charm of the plays, in which he took his revenge on life,
made him next to Ibsen the leading dramatist of the waning nineteenth
century, and a most potent influence on the dramatists of our post-war

has learned that the world about us is vastly different from the world
we think we see and touch; must it not be so also with the panorama of
life and ourselves?

all may see them for exactly what they are. The masks under which all
human nature plays its game of life, thinking to impose on its fellows,
and succeeding, save for the enlightened and disillusioned few, in most
plentifully imposing only upon itself. He got his manner, probably,
from the old Italian Commedia dell' Arte,(82)that indigenous Italian
drama of improvizations, where the characters of Harlequin and
Pantalone, of Colombine and of Brighella are passed around among a
troupe of traveling actors. They select a plot and act the part assigned,
ready at its conclusion for a new deal and a new story, and so to the
end. So it is with human nature: we select the mask, the plot is given by
circumstance, and the drama of life is on; only now the actors are taken
seriously, and the fiction becomes absolute and abiding truth.
Pirandello sets out to expose mercilessly the fiction.

But though sophisticated and convinced of his scientific

accuracy, Pirandello never loses the warm temperament of his native
Sicily; he is filled with pity for all deluded and suffering human nature.
In the foreword he wrote to his biography we catch the note that over
and over again we shall catch in his plays, as he paints the aimless
futility of(81)man's life story: 'to love and pity this poor humanity of
ours.' Love and pity, these are the two impulses aroused by Pirandello's
study of life. Often too there will be the recoil of disgust. How different
from the terror and pity that are the motives for tragedy in Shakespeare
and the Greeks! But more of this later.

Now and again a character discovers that he is only acting a

part. What shall he do then? Can he leave the stage, take off the mask,
and return to life? One of his latest plays, and most significant, is
entitled Trovarsi, to find oneself. The plot is the story of a very great
actress, Donata Genzi, and the theme is the question: is the life of the
artist, who is living only the roles of her characters created on the stage,
less real than the life of one who lives her own life following the urge
of passion? Where does one more truly find oneself? Donata has never
lived except under the mask of a fiction; does this mean that off the
stage she has renounced life for an empty existence? She has foregone
love, for fear that it will impose limitations of its own and be just one
more mask, and this an inescapable one.

'Life is a sea,' free and fluid; 'we are all beings caught in a trap,'
we are 'crusted over,' like the earth, and finally 'fixed forever by death.'
What does Pirandello mean by these poetic figures? Do they make
sense? Is life as normally led by civilized human beings something that
is not life at all, but quite its opposite? Above all, is there a way by
which human beings can live life more abundantly? Or, to put the
question in another way, is Pirandello just a modern and psychological
Rousseau? Rousseau more than a hundred and fifty years ago, when the
new science was political and economic, lifted his heel against
contemporary civilization because it set up barriers between people,
encouraged the baser passions, and promoted hatred, oppression, and
war. Is Pirandello, now that the contemporary scientific fad is
psychology, raising his heel against civilization because in some way it
fixes human nature into masquerading types of personality, when life,
naive and true, is fluid and would resist all formulas and fixed types? Is
Pirandello really, like Rousseau, calling for a return to nature, as some
psychologists might define human nature, without inhibitions and selfimposed creeds? And is such a return now impossible?

As to her assembled friends she confesses her private fear, that

she can never shut her eyes to the dreadful possibility of once
committing herself in real life, she is swept off her feet by an
impetuous young lover, and together they abandon themselves to the
career of sheer passion. Her friends are alarmed at the possibility of her
loss to art, and call her back to the stage. And there the boy, who was to
be made to realize the pure selfishness of his love, what it involved to
the public, and thus be read a most moral lesson in self- denial, instead
is horrified to see Donata repeat for all the world the little caresses and
intimacies of their private passion. It is shameless, indecent, and he

It is significant that to all the collected editions of his plays

Pirandello gives the title Maschere Nude, naked masks, masks from
which the tinsel of romance has been taken off, pitilessly exposed that

storms out, packs his(83) bag, crying, 'Let her choose between me and
the people.' Then the scene changes; she is alone in her bedroom; by a
stage device her mirror becomes a vast stage and auditorium, and she is
acting again a shameless part in a triangle. Slowly the vision
disappears. Again she is deserted, an actress taking off the makeup and
undressing for bed, She gets up, opens wide her arms, and we hear the
last words of the play:

were once so lovable, now almost unrecognizable under their wistful

masks, speak with their old brilliance only that they may expose the
emptiness of all human nature. We are all fools and dupes of fate; and
where all are fools there are no wise that remain to laugh. Comedy
begins with the assumption that there is a remnant of wisdom left in the
world and that folly is a curable disease. Is Pirandello a sign of the
death of comedy?

'E questo veto--E non vero niente--veto soltanto che

bisogna crearsi, creare! E allora soltanto, ci si trova.' 'And this is the
truth--and nothing is true--it is only true that one must create-create!
And then alone does one find oneself.' So the fluidity of art is nearer to
life, art that is conscious of its fluidity? At least it is sophisticated, it
knows that it is creating only masks, and the artist refuses to create one
for himself, one which it grows increasingly difficult to abandon.

By many Pirandello has been called an Expressionist. And as

Expressionism was hailed by many artists and critics as a new form of
art, it was the novelty in Pirandello's work that first caught the popular
notice. But though the term is new, the manner is as old as thoughtful
art.The term came to be used after Croce; the Italian philosopher and
critic adopted it in his aesthetics as a description of the inner nature of
the work of art. He then made a distinction between the work of art--the
Expression as he called it--and its physical communication. The latter
he called the Symbol, the objectification, that serves as a means to
communicate the state of mind, the real work of art. This last to him is
the important thing in art.As for Pirandello, we can if we desire call
him an Expressionist, because he is more interested in the drama within
people's minds than in any external acts. It is the inner conflicts, the
struggles between cross purposes, that this form of art is interested in,
and the external scene on the stage is only the occasion that reveals
these cross currents within people's minds. It has been called the
'shadow drama of the soul,' and again Strindberg is Pirandello's
immediate predecessor. For the Swedish dramatic artist gave his life
and his happiness to explore these psychological faults that lead to
mental earthquakes. It was he who first taught our century to find this
inner psychological drama as thrilling as any external romance.

Even in this play, which is in essence a dramatic dialogue,

brilliant always, on a serious theme, Pirandello is only following the
tradition of the Commedia dell' Arte. Eli, the boy, is our old friend
Harlequin, only his mask is distorted with a quite different passion.
Donata is Brighella cast in a more serious role. An uncle of the boy is
the complaisant and not too understanding Pantalone. It is all there
according to the old prescription; only the plot is different, and the
difference is the chasm that separates Pirandello from the confident age
that understood comedy, laughed at the follies of the unscrupulous,
praised intelligent resourcefulness, and felt itself secure, for it knew
and appreciated the value of the purgation of laughter.
But our age has in many high places forgotten the art of
laughter. Witness the follies and exaggerations and grotesque
posturings and gestures of those that are making contemporary history
and are accepted with all seriousness, with doglike admiration or
passionate hatred. And the sons of Aristophanes, who once drenched
absurdities with laughter, now turn to bitter dramatic editorials on the
futility of all human nature. They seek revenge on the world for their
being born,(84)by pouring forth their pity and disgust in a pyrotechnic
of brilliant and apposite dialogue. And the old stock characters who

Long before Strindberg there was Shakespeare, whose great

tragedies are all of them the crises of inner conflicts. Lear's craze
during the tempest and his outbreak of pity for the(85)mad Edgar
reveal a state of mind as vividly as the flash of lightning reveals the
pathos of his exposed majesty.


What, have his daughters brought him to this pass?

Couldst thou save nothing? Didst thou give them all?

formulas of naive psychology. It is because in each of his plays

Pirandello seems to have a thesis--again as seems true with Ibsen--his
has been called a drama of ideas. The criss-cross of motives that
underlies every state of mental crisis can easily be described as a tangle
of ideas, and the author's task as that of the skilful prestidigitator; he
displays the intricacy of the knots and their apparent finality, and then
deftly shows how all might have been disentangled, or how they came
to be. The result is a severe jar to many a mental complacency. What
we had thought naively was firm and straightforward in human
behavior now is seen to be a morass of treacherous quicksand and
shifting current. And where we had been quick to accept motives for
action or explanation of character, we are left now full of doubtful
questionings and broken faith. Man's mental nature is as much in the
need of the psychologist and psychiatrist as his physical is of the
diagnostician and pathologist.

Before Shakespeare there were the Greeks, Sophocles and

Euripides, especially the latter, who knew how to represent an inner
action objectively and gain power for the tragedy. But the early
twentieth century, revolting from the objective reality of the naturalism
of the school of Zola and the downright realists, found the term
excellent as a creed in petto. What Strindberg in one of his prefaces
wrote of himself applies with perfect appropriateness also to his Italian
follower: 'An event in life--and this is a comparatively new discovery-is generally produced by a whole series of more or less deep-seated
motives, but the spectator chooses for the most part the one which is
easiest for him to grasp.' He then talks of the motives that led to a
suicide. 'It is possible that the dead man hid the real one by putting
forward another which has thrown a more favorable light on his
memory.' Now given a drama in which these motives, hidden and
perhaps even unknown to the person, are brought out remorselessly to
the light, and we have what we may call Expressionism. To this extent
then Pirandello is expressionistic.

Read thus, Pirandello's plays are really dramatic notes from an

expert psychiatrist's notebook: 'Case A, B, C,' et cetera. Each is a
typical case; and each shows the customary incidents in the everyday
life of everyday people that have gone somewhat askew. There are
simply the ordinary mixups that all are liable to: love, jealousy,
business intrigue, family relations, the jars that come to careers,
ambitions, all the little things that seem so small in isolation, but in
their bulk are life. Only at very rare intervals are these incidents bizarre
or romantic, as in Henry IV; but even here the underlying motives are
as ordinary as the life of the million and one of us whose tanglements
never get into print or on the air.(87)

His 'shadow drama of the soul' is a very different kind of thing

from the dramas of Ibsen. For Ibsen, even in his best plays, like The
Master Builder or Rosmersholm, is interested first in a moral conflict,
and the tragic distress is the result of a moral deadlock. To this prophet
of the nineteenth century the ultimate realities are still moral. And
though he refuses to judge, it is because a higher authority has spoken:
'Judgment is mine, I will repay.' The world of human affairs is a moral
world; and perverted, sordid, or blunted to moral ideas though his
characters may be, they never fail ultimately to recognize its nature.
And of the(86)complex nature of this moral world, and of man's
inability to find any formula of easy laws that can explain its workings,
of this Ibsen has everything to say.

Hence the monotony of Pirandello. One case or two from a

physician's record is probably thrilling, for it throws a novel and
curious light on what one thoughtlessly accepted as simple. One is less
interested in the second; by the fourth or fifth, one suggests a rubber of
bridge. I can't imagine a theatrical enterprise giving a season to
Pirandello's plays. The layman doesn't go through hospital wards for a
pastime, much less through Bedlam. I remember well the shock I
experienced when taken through such an institution once in the Orient,
and as we, a company exclusively of men, entered a women's ward,

Now what Ibsen had to say of naive interpretators of the moral

world, and of those that pass easy judgment on their fellows, Strindberg
first, and then Pirandello, said for those who have the old and easy

there was a great outcry and one of the patients immediately and in
great excitement began to tear off her veils. Exhibitionism easily
becomes tiresome, and Pirandello's characters do nothing else but take
off their veils, or tear them from their fellows. It isn't polite; but who
expects the physician to be polite when talking about his profession?

the other hand, of believing that they are all doing it as a joke, I
ask myself whether all this clamorous and dizzy machinery of
life, which from day to day seems to become more complicated
and to move with greater speed, has not reduced the human race
to such a condition of insanity that presently we must break out
in fury and overthrow and destroy everything.

But there is, nevertheless, a great deal of interest today in the

mystery of human nature, and psychiatry, the legitimate and the quack,
is the prevailing science. And the poor word psychology has a rather
hard time of it, as it is dragged from the academic laboratory through
the streets to the booth of the radio advertiser. One can't escape this
new craze. Into it with amazing facility drop all Pirandello's plays. He
has the uncanny insight into the fixations, frustrations, compensations,
and dramatized self-exhibitionism and masquerades that are a major
portion of many lives. He is interested in this sort of thing, and he has
fixed his gaze so exclusively on the 'abnormal,' that after a time we too
ask, what is 'normal,' or, still more bewildered, is there a 'normal'?
Again it is precisely as with anyone even in sound health, who, after a
long description of the symptoms of various diseases, begins to fancy
himself afflicted, and calls anxiously for a check up.

So speaks a character in Si Gira, translated as Shoot! The

Notebook of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph Operator, an early
novel. But it is none other than the author who gives voice to his own
thoughts; and in each of his novels and plays there will be the same
voice mercilessly at work in his diagnosis. Its theme is always the
same, the contrast between life, reality, and the fictitious forms or
masks that all are compelled to wear. This is the common lot for all
humanity. This is the contemporary substitute for original sin and
damnation. Dante in Hell wept for the hypocrites that went
masquerading in their heavy mantles of lead--'O in eterno faticoso
manto.' But hypocrisy was only one of the ten varieties of the sin of
fraud. There were above it and below many other varieties of original
depravity, and some far more grotesque and deadly. Modern
psychology has given us a simpler hell, the one of unconscious
hypocrisy. So this contemporary seer, who also has solved the question
of human destiny, now(89)not in the manner of theologian and moralist
but in that of physician and psychiatrist, weeps over human fate. 'My
art is full of bitter compassion for all who deceive themselves-- the
cruel derision of destiny which condemns man to deception.'

I study people in their most ordinary occupations, to see if I can

succeed in discovering in others what I feel I myself lack(88)in
everything that I do: the certainty that they understand what they are
doing--. No, go your ways in peace. This is enough for me; to know,
gentlemen, that there is nothing clear or certain to you either, not even
the life that is determined for you from time to time by the absolutely
familiar conditions in which you are living. You do not wish or do not
know how to see it. But the moment this something more gleams in the
eye of an idle person like myself, who has set himself to observe you,
why, you become puzzled, disturbed, or irritated.

But Dante, though he went through Hell, found in Purgatory a

discipline and in Heaven a Truth to which humanity can cling for
eternity. What is Truth or Reality to Pirandello? The answer to this
question in one way is more sad than Dante's answer to the question of
the meaning of Sin. For Dante's sinners had forgotten the way of reason
and humanity, they knew the meaning of their fate and were without
hope; but they also belonged, had no illusions about themselves, and
could never by the remotest stretch of the imagination find themselves
in any less sinister a region. They even took a sinister pride in their
perfection. But Truth and Reality to Pirandello is precisely the state of

I look at the women in the street, note how they are dressed,
how they walk, the hats they wear on their heads: at the men,
and the airs they have or give themselves, I listen to their talk,
their plans: and at times it seems to me so impossible to believe
in the reality of all that I see and hear, that being incapable, on

flux masquerading as form, a morass of shifting quicksand that fancies

itself firm and everlasting rock. We are all damned, but we preserve yet
the unfortunate faculty of hope, and an imagination that makes us ever
mistake its mirage for reality.

his plays and of his novels and stories. The human ego is not single,
rather it can be compared to an onion, with its masks in layers; the one
now on the surface shrivels and dies, to be replaced by the next, which
in turn is already preparing for death. And at the core--a vacuum.
Everything human is unstable, even the warmest affection and the most
undying hatred. Opinions change more readily than our costumes, for
they cost less and depend more on the contents of the intestines and
secretions of the glands than on the logical processes of reason. While
behind it all, relentless and meaningless, is the ceaseless flux of life.

Truth is purely subjective, and, like the fleeting personality of

man, ever in a state of flux. It is purely relative. What is true for me is
true for me only so long as I wear my present mask; change my mask
and I acquire a new truth. Truth is never the same for each of us. It is
like a summer evening illumination of fireflies, fitful and passing. For
what are we? Is it what we would like to be? Or what we ought to be?
Or what other people, and how many are there of these, think us to be?
And how we change, chameleon-like, with circumstance! What are we?
How many personalities in each of us? 'The multiple personality of
every one of us, a composite with as many faces as there are
possibilities of being in each of us, and finally the tragic conflict
between Life, which is forever fluid, forever in flux, and Form, which
(90)hardens life into immutable shape from which life withdraws.'
("'Pirandello Confesses.'" Virginia Quarterly Review)

Does this picture bring peace and comfort? At least it leaves its
possessor disillusioned and impatient of illusions.(91)
And Pirandello exalts the irrational urge of the tide of life that
sweeps away all 'age old' creeds and fictions about the meaning of life.
But most human nature is too tender to be wise. It hugs its transitory
ideas and ideals and the masks that it would put on, untaught by their
frailty and brief transitoriness. For this elusive and not to be defined
stream, ever new, within and without, is the only truth, the only reality.
What is true to me today will be false tomorrow; the same may be false
to you today and true tomorrow. Truth is subjective, but relative. There
is nothing alive that is permanent. There is only the permanence of
death. The wise learn to smile with bitter irony, and study life's
whirligig, and so far as possible, like Dante's sinners, abandon the
luxury of hope.

Or it has been expressed with a slight difference by Giuseppe

Prezzolini: 'A person, accordingly, is not one person . . . He assumes a
different aspect according to . . . the "official" character he thinks he
represents in life. But, sooner or later, he is bound to discover this
situation. Each of us some day "looks into the mirror," and the result
for us is either consternation or surprise or tragedy or laughter . . .
Pirandello stands in reaction against "fixed" characters; against people
who are, as we say, "all of a piece"; against a world filled with stiff
unchanging nature.' But as Pirandello shows humanity its portrait there
can be only surprise and consternation; there is no occasion with him
for the humane luxury either of the laughter of comedy or of the
admiration and horror of tragedy. 'What is the saddest sight? It is
laughter on the face of a man.' 'The human ego, wriggling helplessly in
its flux,' ever striving to crystallize, and ever being forced to change its
form. This is the truth that Pirandello discovered. 'One has to live, that
is deceive oneself: to let the devilish buffoon act in us till he gets tired,
and not forget that everything passes.' Here is the theme of every one of

The only compensation to the rude awakenings that come with

tragic consequences to all, to the world's great, like Hamlet or Lear, as
to the world's small, like Heinrich the Bell Founder, or the little
abandoned souls in The Weavers, is the philosophical detachment that
comes with better insight. Then the wise abandon this futilitarianism in
masquerade, wear the mask that the occasion requires, with the full
understanding that it is one's own and not borrowed, and that it is
temporary. There is a world of difference between this philosophic
detachment and that of the poet Lucretius. To him, also, the world was
a ceaseless flux: but for him was the compensation that reason offered,


a stable highland from which undisturbed by the clamor he might

watch with understanding the noisy brawl below.

explanations are all quite contradictory. Is this his first wife, who has
gone insane? Is she a second wife, that the man, now insane, fancies to
be his first wife? Has his first wife died? Why does the husband so
brutally attack his mother-in-law when she offers her explanation? Is
his apology to his neighbors for his actions, after she has tearfully
disappeared, sincere? Are they all insane? Why does the wife when she
finally appears, heavily veiled, seem so noncommital?(93)

Only the dead abide. Here is the central theme of his bestknown play, Six Characters in Search of an Author. A play, like one of
the Commedia dell'Arte, is being rehearsed. The author is on hand to
direct, as Pirandello was often director of his plays. Suddenly in the
middle of these confused proceedings six characters, from the sketch of
an abandoned play, appear on the stage and demand that their story be
acted out to its end. They are characters, dead to be sure, (92)but fixed,
and hence more abiding than author or actors, and hence in their way
more real, for they are everlasting. 'He who has the luck to be born a
character can laugh at death.'

I am the daughter of Signora Frola, and I am the second wife of

Signor Ponza. Yes, and for myself I am nobody--no--I am for myself
whoever you choose to have me . . . In our lives, as you see, there is
something which must remain concealed, otherwise the remedy which
our love for each other has found cannot avail.

That is the very difference! Our reality does not change--it can't
change! It can't be other than what it is, because it is already fixed
forever. It's terrible. Ours is an immutable reality which should make
you shudder when you approach us if you are really conscious of the
fact that your reality is a more transitory and fleeting illusion, taking
this form today, and that tomorrow, according to the conditions,
according to your will, your sentiments, which in turn are controlled by
an intellect that shows this to you today in one manner and tomorrow-who knows how? Illusions of reality represented in this fatuous comedy
of life that never ends, nor can ever end! Because if tomorrow it were
to end . . . then why, all would be finished.

And finally is the explanation of Landisi, the cynic, who, under

one name or another, in all of Pirandello's plays, speaks ironically for
the author the only just word to be pronounced as the curtain comes
Well, and there, my friends, you have the truth, but are you
To this question everyone can give only one answer. We are
not, and never can be satisfied.
The whole play is doubly irritating--irritating because it leaves
us with only the scriptural injunction to answer folly with folly, but
more irritating because it sets before us as normal human nature a
bundle of pathological complexes, and then turns us off with a cynic's
hollow cackle. The old Commedia dell'Arte may have been, and
doubtless was, unreal; but this simply deluges us with a shivering
caricature. Here something more is involved than the mere ideas people
have of themselves. There is also involved a historical fact, the man's
marriage, and a physical fact, the person of this wife. These can be
established as definitely as a parallel of latitude. Even a great Italian
dramatist should not talk disrespectfully of the Equator: it can never be
charged with harboring phobias and complexes.

It is no wonder that these six in their search confounded the

author and actors, and then the bewildered spectators in the audience.
Can one establish the truth by earnestly protesting his point of
view? Pirandello answers in Right You Are if You Think You Are. Here
is a bewildered set of neighbors wondering why a certain husband
never permits anyone to see his wife, but keeps her scrupulously
sequestered. The husband explains his wife's alleged or true insanity.
She, he adds, is his second wife. The mother-in-law explains, and
denies that she is a second wife. The husband perhaps, she adds, is
insane. And at the end, in an excellent climax, the wife explains. The

One of his most daring plays is known to us in English as Each

in his Own Way. Pirandello says he wrote it in a month, less than a
month, and that it is 'more nearly pure art' than all his other pieces. One
can, if he has had the right kind of night-cap, dream a thing like this in
less than a night; and in design it resembles a perverse Chinese puzzle
more than anything else I can think of just now. As evidence here is the
plot: An actress, Delia, whose background is not quite(94)what it might
be, the day before her wedding to an artist gives herself to his friend
Rocca, himself betrothed to the artist's sister. Result: the suicide of her
fianc. Now come the flood of contradictory explanations; for all that
the friends now have to do is to discuss the tragedy. One person is sure
that she did it because the artist's mother and sister had not approved of
her. The lady herself, first accepting this, later suggested that she did it
to punish him for prizing her only for her beauty. Rocca declared he did
what he did to save his friend, who had promised to give up the woman
if she could be tempted. Later he denied that she had ever given herself
to him. Then we discover that Delia and Rocca were madly in love, and
now to bring a conclusion not unlike Ibsen Rosmersholm, he declares
to her that they must atone for what they have done. They must drown
together in the blood of the dead artist. At the end the dramatist's
mouthpiece exclaims: 'A pair of lunatics!' They were, but we must
remember whose imagination it was that created them.

The ironic sport begins when she is in charge of the child and
her employer distracts her attention by making love to her. The child
falls over a precipice and is killed. Next she seeks the aid of a naval
officer who had once asked her to marry him. Now he refuses.
Desperate she tells her story(95)to one, then another, but each time
putting the best color on her motives. Her former employer begs for a
chance to redeem himself, her old lover again asks for her hand, a man
on the street attempts to become her protector; but on each occasion
fate intervenes, the shortcomings in her exuses become more and more
obvious: and when driven to desperation she tries to commit suicide as
the final grand gesture in the romantic manner of abused innocence, her
attempt is frustrated and her naked wriggling self pitilessly exposed to
every curious gaze. She is even denied the compensation of tragedy;
and her last words sum up the Pirandellian caricature of the old
romantic stories like La Dame aux Camlias. For these one carried a
scented handkerchief for the expected luxury of tears. Here you stand
as objectively pitiless as the examining police sergeant when
questioning an unfortunate who has tried to drown herself.
We all of us want to make a good impression. The worse we are
and the uglier, the more anxious we are to appear good and beautiful. I
wanted at least to be buried in decent clothes . . . the dress of a bride . .
. with a tear of sympathy from people. But no, not even that have I been
allowed to keep! I must die naked. I must die discovered--despised-humiliated-- found out. Let me die in silence, naked.

Pirandello is much more in the tradition when he mingles his

caricature with thrusts at the malicious irony of Fate. Vestiri gli Ignudi,
translated as Naked, is one of his bitterest and most successful plays,
and most convincing, because it deals with more matter-of-fact people
and with a more matter-of-fact incident. The chief character, Ersilia-one could never call her the heroine--has had a run of tough luck. It
began at the home of a consular officer where she was employed as
governess. The story, so far as there is a story, is her effort to put
forward the best explanation of her motives, as she slips from one
ironically disagreeable situation into another, until at last, like a
cornered mouse, she is helpless, all her pitiful subterfuges exposed; she
is naked.

What are we? Daringly again, and a little more in the romantic
manner, Pirandello leaves the insistent question unanswered in his best
play, Henry IV. Unlike nearly all of his plays, the situation here is a bit
forced, perhaps a bit bizarre. The plot again is laid in contemporary
Italy. A group of friends, young noblemen and noblewomen, years
before had given a masquerade. They had taken characters from the
eleventh century. The chief character had taken the mask of the
Emperor Henry IV, the lady with whom he was in love, of the
Marchioness Matilda of Tuscany. Each had studied his part with great
care, so as to live the scene with complete sincerity. In a procession a
rival had pricked the (96)Emperor's horse so that he was thrown. When

he recovered it was found that his mind was a blank to all save the
history of the masquerade. He was Henry IV, the Emperor who in 1076
had defied the Pope, been excommunicated, and at last forced to make
a humiliating peace at Canossa.

But woe to him who doesn't know how to wear his mask, be he
king or Pope!
In a sudden explosion of imperial wrath he stabs his rival. The
conclusion is Pirandellian. He can no longer quit the mask, for to reveal
his sanity is to invite the peril of the law. And he settles down to the old
and now quite false routine, taking up a personality that never belonged
to him.

His friends were able to humor his delusion, and for years he
has now lived in a secluded castle with a retinue as the Emperor. He
thinks, acts, and ever feels as Emperor, and his friends visit him in their
former disguise. But, as is revealed to us near the end of the play, as
time passes his mind clears, but habit now has become too strong for
him to desire to resume his old personality. At last, and here the play
opens, his friends, advised by a psychiatrist, try to effect a cure. The
lady he had been in love with has now a daughter, almost the image of
her mother on the day of the accident; and by subtly using her to
impersonate her mother it is hoped his mind may be restored.

Because it's a terrible thing if you don't hold on to that which

seems true to you today--to that which will seem true to you tomorrow,
even if it is the opposite of that which seemed true to you yesterday.
But after all, is the assumed personality of Henry IV any the
less false than the personality of the now awakened count? And what
relation have these personalities to the man he had been in the
beginning? He had acquired one personality by accident, like a piratical
hermit crab that ousts a shellfish and acquires the new home. But had
he better title to any other personality?

But quickly he sees through the pretense of their masquerade.

Angered he turns on them with the bitterness of truth. However,
Monsignor, while you keep yourself in order, holding on with both
your hands to your holy habit, there slips down from your sleeves, there
peels off from you like . . . like a serpent . . . something you don't
notice: life, Monsignor! (Turns to the Marchioness.) Has it never
happened to you, my Lady, to find a different self in yourself? Have
you always been the same? My God! One day . . . how was it, how was
it you were able to commit this or that action?

By a recent biographer this play has been compared with

Hamlet, and praised as a modernization of the old theme. But what a
world of difference, even granting certain superficial resemblances
between the distracted Hamlet and the distracted count. I am not sure
we have not overstressed Hamlet's distraction. But the Hamlet before
tragedy touched him is admirable and almost perfect human nature,
admirable enough to make him the favorite of all. After the ghost's
visitation his malady, if we may call it such, came from the horror of
the abyss that opened so suddenly beneath his feet. It was a moral
shock that for him left the whole world completely transformed.
Pirandello's count had the misfortune to fall from his horse, which
jangled his already none-too- melodious bells. We can speak of
Hamlet's tragedy; we can speak only of Henry IV's schizophrenia. And
between there is a world of significant difference. To cure Hamlet the
physician must begin with a world out of joint and the some(98)thing
rotten in Denmark. Henry IV is only an isolated, interesting, and
perhaps instructive case from a physician's notebook.

. . . But we all of us cling tight to our conceptions of ourselves,

just as he who is growing old dyes his hair. What does it matter that
this dyed hair of mine isn't a reality for you, if it is, to some extent, for
me?--you, you, my Lady, certainly don't dye your hair to deceive the
others, nor even yourself; but only to cheat your own image a little
before the looking-glass. I do it for a joke! You do it seriously! But I
assure you that you too, Madam, are in masquerade, though it be in all
seriousness; and I am not speaking of the venerable crown on your
brows or the ducal mantle.
. . . I dressed as a penitent, today; he, as prisoner tomorrow!(97)

There may be a variety of wisdom and some intellectual

satisfaction in tracing the progress of this masquerade of futile
illusions. But one can also suffer from a surfeit of disillusionment, and
the habit of regarding life as an unintelligent cinema tends to lose for us
also the zest of living. In such a world of Maya even the orthodox
Hindu can find no comfort, for to him it denies the final peace of
Nirvana. But this illusory, kaleidoscopic masquerade knows no end.
Where right you are if you think you are, where each with equal right
goes in his own way, there can be no standards; where all are abnormal
there is nothing normal; where all are insane there can be no ideas on
sanity. In this case we can do only as Pirandello does, record the
infinite variety in the curiosity shop of delusions.

heart the findings of the new psychology, and has read them into the
laws for universal human nature. There is a certain admirable courage
in being able with a pitiful smile to endure the spectacle of a perpetual
'Somewhere in one of the tall trees, making a stage in its height, an
invisible bird, desperately attempting to make the day seem shorter,
was exploring with a long, continuous note the solitude that pressed it
on every side, but it received at once so unanimous an answer, so
powerful a repercussion of silence and of immobility that, one would
have said, it had arrested for all eternity the moment which it had been
trying to make pass more quickly.'

The sardonic smile with which this contemporary--and there are

many like him--surveys with pity the victims of their own multiple
selves fits the prescription of neither tragedy nor comedy, as great
literature has cultivated the humane tradition. For it denies first of all
the very source of great literature, the belief in the excellence and value
of human nature. The great characters that tell the story of the power of
the human imagination were not the perpetual inmates of the wards of a
hospital. Their ailments were beyond the scope of even the most skilful
of psychiatrists. 'Throw physic to the dogs'; for these minds diseased
were responsible and moral, and in the measure of the responsibility of
their moral nature their pain or their comic grotesqueness was the more


'Nothing comes from ourselves but that which we draw out of the
obscurity within us and which is unknown to others. . . . An hour is a
vase filled with perfumes, with sounds, with moments, with changing
moods and climates.'

More than this, even in the moments of their bitterest pain or

comic delusion, they possessed a vigorous sense of their self-identity.
Lear and Othello stared bewildered at a world that had suddenly
betrayed them; Lear with mind(99)unhinged, and Othello driven to
righteous crime; but both leave us amazed at the potencies of the
human mind and its unexpectedness. So also in great comedy we are
shaken by laughter at the infinite variety of folly that human nature can
attain. But though its flexibility be never so great, the human
personality remains, self-recognizing and ultimately self-judged and
sentenced. Pirandello, with all his power and insight, reflects what can
only be a passing obsession of the contemporary mind. It has taken to

TIME and timelessness--the silence that arrests 'for all eternity the
moment,' the hour so full of past and present and anticipation of the
future that it and it alone seems immortal and the only abidingly real-nearly all have known these vital moments of life. Then personality
stands tiptoe in thrilled expectation, but of what? Marcel Proust set out
to explore and to discover the laws of their coming and going. For in
them and them alone he found the secret of the ultimate reality of
personality and character. Know these moments to the full, and
sensuously understand the manner of their appearance, and one may
truly be able to say that he has approached the art of self-knowledge. It
is not a logical or an analytical process; the intellect has little or

nothing to do with the result. The will has no power in this region of
revelation. Chance and utter accident may dictate the occasion; and the
result, if the mind be allowed, like the opening flower, to unfold its
petals unmolested, is(101)a poet's vision, a rapt moment of complete
understanding and fulfilment.

Can we escape the pain of existence only by discovering and

submitting to the self?
We live in Time, or at least in what we call Time, the swing of
the pendulum geared to the daily rotation of the earth, sunrise, noon,
sunset, night, a regularly recurring time table, an inexorable cosmic
event, and forcing into its rhythm the days, hours, seasons, years, and
decades of our lives. Babyhood, youth, maturity, old age, and death; is
it not only too easy to fancy that the several ages of man correspond to
the time table of the sun, and that the same cosmic accident that set this
earth spinning in space governs the birth, growth, decay, and death of
each individual that lives under the sun? Time, what is Time?

What moments of our lives are real? Andr Gide found them in
the moments of unpremeditated action, the acte gratuit, when instinct
had its way, and reason and calculation of advantage had not intervened
to mask the personality. Such actions bubbling spontaneously out of the
unsuspected caves of personality are of its distilled essence. They mark
the real moments of life when nothing of convention or habit or interest
is allowed to intervene, when the leaden hand of inhibition for a
moment is lifted, and one's act is in full accord with the movement of
life itself. Pirandello leaves the question of personality unanswered and
unanswerable. Man is a perpetual actor, with unpredictable and
incalculable roles prompted by a hidden and perpetual urge like the
wind or currents of the sea. Life, reality, and true personality-- who
shall define the undefinable?

And personality--that elusive thing that we call character,

infancy and blooming youth and doddering age--is each stage like a
moment of clock time, a pause of a pendulum that marks the end of one
swing and the beginning of its return? Is the baby grasping at its bottle
the same personality, only altered by the rhythm of time, as the old man
grasping at his feeble hold on life? What has time to do with
personality? Does it in its rhythm transform the baby into the youth,
mature youth, and finally plant the seeds of decay, old age, and death?
Is it all the same personality, as it is the same yet changing earth that
spins on its axis, revolves about the sun, and with its parent pursues its
unknown adventure into the depths of cosmic space? These are
interesting questions. Are they insoluble?

It is an interesting question, this, what is the fundamental real in

life and personality, the thing that isolates one from the panorama of
events and gives uniqueness to one's experience--the quest of the 'I' that
is ever striving to find itself in the--welter of existence. It might be
given one to suspect that even the lonely ant of a perfect ant hill, when
his wanderings have carried him to an Odyssey of strange adventure,
feels the thrill of this uniqueness and wonders how far his 'I' differs
from the corporate mass of encrusted habit that is the 'I'-ness of his
conventional life. Like the suddenly awakened lonely ant, how many of
us have at times felt that in the growing organized automaton that
modern mechanized life has become, there must be moments when
personality stands revealed in its essence. These moments must be free,
they must be of the substance of reality. Where are these moments, and
how can they be discovered? For in their discovery man may find also
an exceeding joy, and a peace and harmony that the world without can
never give.(102)

To be sure, there is the identical yet changing physical body,

baby, youth, man, that, though never the same, has its continuous life
history, a center of radiating activity and yet always restlessly the same.
He is John Smith when he gulps his surprise at the ceremony of
christening, he is John Smith when, rich in years and impoverished in
body, he slips under the cover of his tombstone. Yes, in spite of the
changes in the grouping and number of the physical atoms that go to
make his recognizable self, there is something(103)organically unique
and abiding in the objective thing in measurable space and time that by
something more than a convention we call John Smith. He is; he has,
like the plot of a tragedy or comedy, a beginning, middle, and ending.

He can always be physically measured, labeled, and identified. His

reality is as concrete and as questionable as any fact in nature, and as
subject to the laws of physics and chemistry. We know what we are
speaking of when his physical existence is in question.

statistical accuracy, they take no cognizance of the contours of the

landscape, the twists and turns and backtrackings and general confusion
that a railroad line must be in a rough country--diving underground,
leaping chasms, writhing its way to its destination. But the railroad has
one obvious advantage over character, it has at least an obvious
destination. Character may or may not. But its devious waywardness
would confuse even the most skilful of railroad map makers. And does
it have a destination? Or is it more like an underground restless body of
water, breaking out suddenly into the sunlight, as purposeful as an
artesian spring? And when we turn it to useful purposes, like the
irrigation engineer confining it in flumes and diverting it that distant
regions may be fruitful, are we not hiding under the mask of purpose its
divine and spontaneous reality, making of it a thing mechanical and
subject again to time?

But the mind of John Smith is a very different matter. Of this no

one is directly conscious save John Smith himself. And it is of this
above all that we speak when we use the terms personality and
character. Reality here, if we must use the word, is something very
different from the concrete convincingness of arms, torso, and legs that
can be measured in space and time. If this has a beginning, middle, and
ending, it must be something wholly different from birth, maturity, and
decay, whose story can be measured by the rhythm of a pendulum. If it
has a plot it must be like the plot of a tragedy in art, where there are the
moments of intense action and eloquence separated by abysses of
insignificance and silence. Who can measure by the clicking of a clock
the agony that was Macbeth or Othello? Here is something that defies
the analysis of time and is of the nature of the eternal.

More than this, is not the increasing mechanization of modern

life making rare and more rare the emergence of this personality? The
automatic adjustments and conventions by which we all live are the
ready-made responses we learn to make to life so that we may carry on
with the least of friction and greatest efficiency. But because they are
made for us, they express only in a mechanical formula anyone's
individual character or personality. How then can they be real? To
think of life as made up exclusively of such unrealities leaves little
room for thought of human freedom or(105)dignity. Contemporary
literature has joined, quite reasonably one can think, in a wail of
protest. T. S. Eliot will call our culture The Waste Land and our
contemporaries Hollow Men:

It is in intense moments like these, wholly unpremeditated, that

Gide or Pirandello is attempting to discover the secret of personality, its
naked reality when the covering mask has been temporarily removed.
Moments like those in which Hamlet with unpremeditated unconcern
discovers the treachery of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, or with utter
abandon throws himself into the grave of Ophelia. This is the real
Hamlet to Gide; the philosophical Hamlet of the gravediggers' scene, or
the calculating Hamlet playing cat and mouse with the King, is only his
protective mask and as unreal. To Proust, however, there will be quite
another(104) region than that of action where we may discover this
elusive and Protean reality.

Shape without form, shade without color, Paralyzed force,

gesture without motion.

But one word more, in discussing the essence of personality,

this underlying reality that is the 'I'-ness of each, there are two pitfalls
into which one can only too easily stumble. The so-called 'analysis' of
character that much of our study of fiction has encouraged tends only
too readily to simplify character--much as a railroad map simplifies the
route between any two cities. Laid down as these must be with

Indeed it has become quite conventional for us to feel that in

these our days the essential realities of personality have been lost in the
comforts and massed habits of civilized life. We have perfect
organization and almost achieved standardization, and the loss of the
vital motive in the individual.


Or as Proust will put it, slavery of personality to Time, the time

table against free movement, and a carefully devised statistical
convention against spontaneous reality. For organization and
standardization are in effect the imposition of a calculated routine, and
the eye of routine is always fixed on the face of the clock--the
inexorable rule of Time in our contemporary civilization. Life patterned
on the statistics of a time table. Business with its inflexible code of
hours and weeks and days. Pleasure similarly reduced to the formulas
of a radio program, with the remorseless voice of the announcer calling
the next movement. In all this regimentation of drilled and rehearsed
monotony we pass our lives, with ever less and less opportunity to hear
the still small voice of the real personality within. For its movements
are not in clock time; to it a moment can be fraught, like Dante's, with
the vision of Eternity, and to it a year may be no more than a passing
shadow on the dial. It is this contemporary discomfort, a sense that
something essential is being lost, that gives significance to the struggle
of Marcel Proust to discover the essential and real under the statistical
and conventional, and thus to find freedom and happiness. It was to be
a return to the depths of our own selves, where reality lies buried and
unknown to us. This is the problem for every individual. But it is for
the artist first to make the discovery and communicate (106)it to others.
The task is none too easy. 'Real books must be the product, not of
broad daylight and small talk but of darkness and silence.'

trees, have come to join you and keep you company (but singly,
at any rate, for they were oldfashioned wall papers, on which
each rose was so distinct that it could have been picked if it had
been real, and each bird could have been put in a cage and
tamed) having none of the pretentious interior decoration of the
rooms of the present day, in which, on a silver background, all
the apple trees of Normandy stand out sharply in Japanese style,
to fill with fantasies the hours spent abed--that whole day I
remained in my room, which looked out on the beautiful
verdure of the estate and the lilacs at the entrance, on the tall
trees at the water's edge, their green foliage glistening in the
sunlight, and on the forest of Msglise.
This does not pretend to be a description giving the recipe of a
place, a panorama, in order that a conventional landscape painter might
follow directions and put the scene together. Much rather it is the way
the place sensuously awoke in the memory of the artist, sentient image
calling up sentient image, until this whole was complete. Literally one
feels, sees, tastes, and smells his way through Proust's novels.
Curiously, only at rare intervals does one hear.(107)
Reading Proust, thus, is to call into intense activity all of the
varied sense responses to life. And this is a power that most find rather
difficult to awaken. We want our sense responses given to us easy and
ready made, and none too complicated. But here is Proust. Rosy
candlelight--we let it go at that--by him is called 'the twilight of a
flower.' Where has the magic power of the sense of smell been better
displayed? To most now it is an atrophied sense with the most abjectly
limited range; but once it was the rival of sight.

Marcel Proust is not an easy writer. Concerned more with 'the

life of the mind' than with action, his very sentences have the sinuous,
labyrinthine, and apparent aimlessness of a stream lost in a tropical
morass. They have nothing in common with the direct and efficient
utterance of everyday time-table life. Take this opening sentence from
his last volume:

Before I went in to wish my aunt good day I would be kept

waiting a little time in the outer room, where the sun, a wintry
sun still, had crept in to warm itself before the fire, lighted
already between its two brick sides and plastering all the room
and everything in it with a smell of soot, making the room like
one of those great open hearths which one finds in the country,
or one of the canopied mantelpieces in old castles under which

The whole day long, in that rather too countrified house at

Tansonville, which had the air merely of a place to rest in when
out for a stroll or during a shower, one of those houses in which
every drawing-room gives the effect of a summerhouse, and
where, in the bedrooms, on the wall paper of one the roses of
the garden, and on the wall paper of the other the birds from the

one sits hoping that in the world outside it is raining or

snowing, hoping almost for a catastrophic deluge to add the
romance of shelter and security to the comfort of a snug retreat;
I would turn to and fro between the prayer-desk and the
stamped velvet armchairs, each one always draped in its
crocheted anti-macassar, while the fire, baking like a pie the
appetising smells with which the air of the room was thickly
clotted, which the dewy and sunny freshness of the morning had
already 'raised' and started to 'set,' puffed them and glazed them
and fluted them and swelled them into an invisible though not
impalpable country cake, an immense puff-pastry, in which,
barely waiting to savour the crustier, more delicate, more
respectable, but also drier smells of the cupboard, the chest-ofdrawers, and the patterned wallpaper I always returned with an
unconfessed gluttony to bury myself in the nondescript,
resinous, dull, indigestible, and fruity smell of the flowered

Marcel, the narrator and chief character, ever does anything or earns an
achievement. But he is not like Joyce, following the train that makes up
the annoying, humorless, recital of significance and insignificance that
is the Ulysses. This reveals the complete disintegration of personality
into an unconnected flux of undistinguished mental experience, the
utterly raw material of life. This is the chief criticism that one can bring
against this undistinguished novel. It is like gazing upon a landscape
where all the details have equal significance or insignificance, where
the blowing of one's nose is as important as the thrill of love. But
beyond the fact that both Joyce and Proust are concerned with the
movement of the mind, there is between them all the difference in the
world. It is precisely this difference between the significant and the
insignificant that Proust is engaged to explore. He finds the secret in
memory, but memory quite disassociated from Time, as we count its
hours.It would be interesting, were it possible here, to relate this
practice of Proust to the theory of Bergson on time and memory in the
two books of his that preceded the appearance of Proust's sequence of
novels: Time and Free Will and Creative Evolution. It is the former that
is probably the more significant. For example the importance of a
sentence like this to Proust's method: 'Hence there are finally two
different selves, one of which is, as itwere, the external projection of
the other, its spatial and, so to speak, social representation. We reach
the former by deep introspection, which leads us to grasp our inner
states as living things, constantly becoming, as states not amenable to
measure, which permeate one another and of which the succession in
duration has nothing in common with juxtaposition in homogeneous
space. But the moments at which we thus grasp are rare, and that is just
why we are rarely free. The greater part of the time we live outside
ourselves, hardly perceiving anything of ourselves but our own ghost, a
colourless shadow which pure duration projects into homogeneous
space.'But the differences between Proust and Bergson are probably
even more significant than their similarities. For it is not the flux, the
undifferentiated movement of pure time and ultimate reality that Proust
attempts to capture. For him memory does not arrest time, but abolishes
it, and it is not the flux that he captures, as does Joyce in Ulysses, but
something to him far more precious and eternally stable.(109)

And who of us can touch and taste silence? Milton's

'smoothing the raven down of darkness till it smiled' was
literary imagery of the first magnitude. Proust finds this
symphony of odors 'saturated with the fine bouquet of a silence
so nourishing, so succulent'; and Proust is a glutton for literary
Perhaps these long sentences and sense impressions are difficult
to read, but the experiences also were difficult for the author; they are
to him the ultimate reality, 'the only reality that exists for each of us,
our own sensitiveness to impressions.' To awaken these impressions in
a reader, to call up in him the sensitive memory where these lie stored,
demands a style leisurely, yet scrupulously exact, and calling for design
very different from that of mere logical description.
Again, contrary to what has been written and said, Proust is not,
like James Joyce or even Virginia Woolf, following the 'stream of
consciousness.' To be sure his adventures are all of them underground
adventures of the mind. None of his characters, and least of all he,

But Proust's memory is a very different thing from the memory

as we think of it in the memoranda of diaries or the statistical record of
doings that we for convenience file away for reference. 'What were you
doing at twelve o'clock on the thirtieth of June, last year? Such a
question might be able to elicit a very definitely detailed answer, such
as an attorney or jury might find satisfactory for an alibi. Such useful
details are precisely similar to the railroad time table that tells you the
exact hour of the arrival and departure of trains; and without them all of
the practical necessities of life would be thrown into unremediable
confusion. But can one call up the special sensations and images, fresh
and immediate and vital, of that day in June, with its full background
into which all sense details fall into perfect place? At times like these
the past lives again in the present, and the present in the past. Indeed
when once past and present thus fuse, each has lost its place in the
calendar, the time table has telescoped into a single entry, and for this
one moment time was, is, and is no more.

Proust, like all of us, sensed the difficulty of allowing these

buried ghosts again to be real, and past experience to be even more
vital than it was when new and fresh, because now it has been fused
with the vital present. He felt its call as it strove to awaken to new
consciousness and stretch to capacity its power of sensuous response. 'I
felt that I was not penetrating to the full depth of my impression, that
something more lay behind that mobility, that luminosity, something
which they seemed at once to contain and conceal.' Yet when once the
depths had given up part of their treasure of memory, then the power of
exploring to the full its rich significance became a flight into a known
and controllable region. 'Like an aviator who has been laboriously
rolling along the ground, and then suddenly takes off, I rose slowly
toward the heights of memories past.' Then the present impressions
which would awaken this new consciousness, with their 'mobility,' their
'luminosity,' as though under Ali Baba's magic spell, were 'ready to
open, to yield up the secret treasure of which they were themselves no
more than the outer covering.'

It is hard to capture these moments of intense living at the same

time in the past and the present. The immediate causes or stimuli that
strive to call them up, though strong, may not be quite clear enough, or
we not quite adept enough to follow the clue. I know a certain odor that
comes in the fall, at the time of burning leaves, and a certain(110)smell
of freshly sawed pine, that are full of certain vague reminiscence, but
their clue I have never been able to follow to the experience in
subconscious memory that begs to be released and called into present
consciousness; something I know it is from very early childhood, but
turn as I will to the past, the memory refuses to arise. So it is, I suspect,
with most. Most have heard the knocking at the gate of the present by
the ghosts of the past, living ghosts astir, longing to arise and converse
with the present, only the load of the present is too strong, the
gravestones under which we bury the past are too heavy; and memory
becomes only its statistical epitaph, which tells of the practical
historical data of our lives--that at seven we had a siege of chicken pox
that kept us indoors, and we missed the opportunity to use the new sled
that Santa had brought at Christmas.

In these magic moments to Proust occur the revelation

of(111)true personality, the ultimate reality of self. Recent psychology
since Freud and Jung has made us familiar--perhaps unpleasantly
familiar--with the story of the subconscious self that lies buried under
the heavy inhibition of consciousness. How much of human life lies
below the level that can be reached by conscious thought? The story of
its significance in relation to habit and behavior can never be fully told.
Out of its depths arise those stronger impulses or instincts that lay
down the lines of conduct, whether for good or for evil; sinister or
benevolent movements, uncontrollable and unpredictable, but all
profoundly the secret and inexorable voice of self. In normal or routine
times this voice may not be heard, and the self conforms perfectly to
the prescribed and predictable code; but given the right occasion, the
trapdoor is sprung and out of these unsuspected depths, like unbidden
ghosts, arise the new and unsuspected motives, and the personality
stands transformed and sometimes unrecognizable.
Such was the transformation, in Euripides' play Iphigenia at
Aulis, that came over the young Iphigenia when she learned the

dreadful fate that the lords of Greece had decreed for her. Brought in
joy to Aulis with her mother by the lure of a marriage to Achilles, the
prince of Greek heroes, she suddenly learns that it is a very different
celebration in which she is to play a part. She must be sacrificed, and
by a father's hand, on the altar to a revengeful goddess, in order that the
Greek expedition may have a favorable wind for Troy. First she cringes
with fear, and embraces the knees of her father in terror; and then when
there might be a rescue, brave and proud she marches to her doom.
Some hidden well of pride and courage, some inheritance from the
past, has suddenly been opened and its potency disclosed. And
Iphigenia, had time for thought been permitted, would have been the
last to recognize her new and real but unsuspected personality.

First World War sometimes has less significance to Proust than the
glimpses he can catch as he gazes into his past.
But at the top, those who have created for themselves an
enveloping inner life, pay little heed to the importance of current
events. What alters profoundly the course of their thinking is much
more something which seems to be of no importance in itself and yet
which reverses the order of time for them, making them live over again
an earlier period of their life. The song of a bird in the park of
Montboissier, a breeze laden with the scent of mignonette,
areobviously incidents of less importance than the outstanding dates of
the Revolution and the Empire. Yet they inspired Chateaubriand in his
Memoires d'Outre-tombe to write pages of an infinitely greater

Great literature is full of these occasions, these 'impressions'

(112)as Proust calls them, that reveal true personality to itself and to
others. Perhaps of all great authors Shakespeare is the most alert to the
significance of these mysterious depths from which on occasion our
real selves emerge, and to the 'laws' of their emergence. What a
stranger the stricken Macbeth is to his wife--even more to himself; how
completely Lear baffles all who have long known him; how Othello
denies his early and habitual simple-mindedness and generosity. This
mysterious region of the subconscious and its significance for behavior
have long been known to great art.

So he set out in his series of novels on the search for the past,
and only after a diligent and baffled quest did he succeed, as he
describes it in the last volume of the sequence, in achieving its
recapture.The seven novels of the sequence have all the general title-Remembrance of Things Past (A la Recherche du Temps Perdu). Each
novel has also its separate title, which in English translation has been
1. Swann's Way (Du Ct de chez Swann)
2. Within a Budding Grove (A l'Ombre des Jeunes Filles en
3. The Guermantes' Way (Le Ct de Guermantes)
4. Cities of the Plain (Sodome et Gomorrhe)
5. The Captive (La Prisonnire)
6. The Sweet Cheat Gone (Albertine disparue) (an unfortunate
English title)
7. The Past Recaptured (Le Temps retrouv)

The new psychology is not so new except in its terminology and

technique, and in making its discoveries available for relieving
suffering. We are learning, as Proust tells us he learned, to be a little
more expert in discovering the keys that unlock the hidden trap-doors
that conceal the living but yet unconscious past.
To Proust the richest store in the subconscious is memory, and
through its awakening comes the discovery of the real in human
personality. The present, to him, with its crowd of sensations and
thoughts, is not real. It is only the superficies of life, the ripples on the
surface, which seem terribly significant if one's view is only of the
surface, while below are the unplumbed depths filled with mysterious
and invisible and sometimes sinister life. Even a war as great as the

In the nature of things some of these are better than others. Swann's
Way is perhaps best known to English readers, but alone gives little of
the scope of the novel sequence.His story covers three generations, and
Swann's Way tells the story of his childhood and the figures with whom

his early memory is filled. We grow with him through the sequels to
maturity and then to age. The series closes with the years after the
Great War, almost just before the author's own death. But it is only in
the last novel that the design of the whole work is sketched and its
moral drawn.

past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are
broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality,
more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste
of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us,
waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and
bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their
essence, the vast structure of recollection.

Anything, even the least irrelevance, may be the occasion that will
spring the lock of the trap-door. Early in the novel Swann's Way, where
he describes his own childhood in the little village of Combray, with its
parks, streets, churches, and stream, he tells of the mystery of the
recapture. The past had vanished. But now it comes back, flooding, like
a spring tide, all the wastes of the present and sparkling anew with the
freshness of new transport.

It is the immobility of the reason, the practical sense, and clock

time that make the world about us so seemingly waste, dead, and
immobile. 'Perhaps the immobility of the things about us is lent them
by the immobility of our thought as it contemplates them.' Break this
immobility by awakening memory, and the world again suddenly
becomes alive, alive with the past and the present vibrating in unison.
In The Guermantes' Way he describes the process as almost the manner
of a spider achieving a web. 'In this manner the reaches of my memory
little by little was filled with focal points which in their arrangement, in
their grouping each in relation to the other, in this weaving between
themselves threads more and more numerous, imitated those finished
works of art, where not a single brush stroke is for itself, where each
receives from the others its reason for being as it imposes its own on
all.' Memory thus in itself becomes a work of art, rich, organic, and
complete. It reveals the reality beneath the(115) appearance, for it
transmutes the appearance as it fuses it with the treasure-house of the

And so it is with our own past. It is a labour in vain to attempt to

recapture it: all the efforts of our intellect must prove futile. The past is
hidden somewhere outside the realm, beyond the reach of intellect, in
some material object (in the sensation which that material object will
give us) which we do not suspect. And as for that object, it depends on
chance whether we come upon it or not before we ourselves must die.
And suddenly the memory returns. The taste was that of the little
crumb of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray (because
on those mornings I did not go out before (114)churchtime), when I
went to say good day to her in her bedroom, my aunt Lonie used to
give me, dipping it first in her own cup of real or of lime-flower tea.
The sight of the little madeleine had recalled nothing to my mind
before I tasted it; perhaps because I had so often seen such things in the
interval, without tasting them, on the trays in pastry-cooks' windows,
that their image had dissociated itself from those Combray days to take
its place among others more recent; perhaps because of those
memories, so long abandoned and put out of mind, nothing now
survived, everything was scattered; the forms of things, including that
of the little scallop-shell of pastry, so richly sensual under its severe,
religious folds, were either obliterated or had been so long dormant as
to have lost the power of expansion which would have allowed them to
resume their place in my consciousness. But when from a long-distant

The most interesting and significant things in Proust are his

many and illuminating descriptions of how the past was recaptured.
Time and again he comes back to the apparently trivial occurrences,
like the taste and smell of this innocent little cake of his childhood, that
sprung the heavy locks and slowly the huge panorama of the past, like a
released spirit, emerged from forgotten depths and flooded his whole
being. Again in The Past Recaptured there were two of the most trivial
of accidents that brought the illumination of the events that followed
his boyhood, and furnished the memory of the lost sequels to the story
of his boyhood.


It is now during the years after the war. The author, the I,
Proust, has returned to a changed Paris after years in an infirmary.
Time has laid a heavy hand on all his acquaintances. Those whom he
had known in his boyhood, and who furnished the memory of the
sequels to the story of his boyhood, are now in old age vainly striving
to carry on in the old traditions. The young are a generation he has
hardly seen, the children of his own contemporaries, and between these
extremes, the people of his own age have been matured out of all
recognition. He is invited to a reception at the town house of the
Guermantes, the old aristocratic family that once dominated the social
life of France. It has now fallen on days of fading glory, and
newcomers with no past are pressing it hard in its claim to prestige. He
has just been shocked by the decay and disintegration that has made
almost unrecognizable the once debonair Baron de Charlus; and now he
is standing at the entry to the palace, hesitating before announcing

sensation I had once felt as I stood on two uneven flagstones in the

baptistry of Saint Mark's, and with that sensation came all the others
connected with it that day, which had been waiting in their proper place
in the series of forgotten days, until a sudden happening had
imperiously commanded them to come forth . . .
But when I reached the second story, a butler asked me to step
for a moment into a small library adjoining the buffet, until the
selection they were playing was finished, the Princess having forbidden
that the doors be opened while it was being played. At that very
moment a second signal came to reinforce the one I had received from
the two uneven flagstones, and urged me to persevere in my task. What
happened was that a servant, trying in vain to make no noise, struck a
spoon against a plate. The same kind of felicity as I had received from
the uneven paving stones now came over me; the sensations were again
those of great heat, but entirely different, mingled with the odour of
smoke, tempered by the cool fragrance of a forest setting, and I
recognized that what seemed to me so delightful was the very row of
trees which I had found it wearisome to study and describe and which,
in a sort of hallucination, I thought now stood before me as I uncorked
the bottle of beer I had with me in the railway carriage, the sound of the
spoon striking the plate having given me--until I came to myself again-the illusion(117)of the very similar noise of the hammer of a workman
who had made some repairs to a wheel while our train stopped before
that little clump of trees.

Again he gets the signal, this time twice, as before when he

tasted the little cake dipped in lime-flower tea. He has just stepped
upon an uneven pavement. This gives the memory of one of the
sequences that are his long work. A(116)moment later comes the
second signal. He has just entered the Guermantes' mansion. It is the
prelude to another movement in the story of the orbit of his life and of
those who had crossed it.
I stood there, swaying back and forth, as I had done a moment
before, one foot on the higher stone and the other on the lower,
indifferent to the possible amusement of the large crowd of chauffeurs.
Each time that I merely repeated the action physically, the effort was in
vain; but I forgot the Guermantes' reception and succeeded in
recapturing the sensation I had felt the instant I placed my feet in that
position, again the dazzling, elusive vision brushed me with its wings,
as if to say, 'Seize me in my flight, if you have the power, and try to
solve the riddle of happiness I propound to you.' And almost
immediately I recognized it; it was Venice, about which my efforts at
description and the supposed 'snapshots' taken by my memory had
never yielded me anything, but which was brought back to me by the

The revelation comes with a thrill of exhilaration, like a fresh

wind from the mountains when one has been living in the crowded
commonplace. It is a refreshing air, 'refreshing just because we have
breathed it once before.' It is the pure air 'that the poets have vainly
tried to find in Paradise, whereas it could not convey that profound
sensation of renewal if it had not already been breathed, for the only
true paradise is always the paradise we have lost.' And he draws an
enjoyment from the renewal quite different from the enjoyment of the
original experience of which these memories are now the real essence.
Then the mind was perhaps too fatigued, too encumbered to taste their
full sensuous savor. Now they come disencumbered of all save their

abiding essence, and thus flooding the mind make complete the
happiness of this new and abiding moment.

But again there is nothing new or revolutionary in this

discovery by Proust. Dante's vision of The Divine Comedy is a
succession of such imaginative moments of eternal value, with a range
from the depths to the heights of achievable human experience. In
these, as again did Proust, he fused his own past with the past of all
humanity. Only Dante does not stop to inquire, as does the
experimental psychologist, just what morsel of food it was, or the odor
of what flower, that sent his imagination backward until he again had
the comradeship of his beloved Virgil or the ecstasy of his radiant
Beatrice. All great literature in its highest moments are thus both
intimately personal and confer upon the author the sense of
immortality. These moments because they have thus been intensely
vivid are of the nature of the eternal. And because they have been
adequately set down in prose and verse, on the adequate reader they
again confer the blessings of immortality; for they too defy time and
seasons, immobilized as they are for all eternity.Saint Augustine long
before in his Confessions tells of his long study of memory and its
surprising revelations. 'Great is the force of memory, excessive great, O
my God; a large and infinite sanctuary, who shall penetrate to
itsdepths?' He makes the effort, like Proust, and what is his discovery?
Again like Proust's, it is a joyous discovery and the fulfilment of his
highest desires. 'Since therefore I learned to know thee, hast thou still
kept in my memory; and there do I find thee, whenever I call thee to
remembrance, and delight myself in thee. These be my holy delights
which thou hast bestowed upon me.' There is a difference between
what the two found.(119)

Why this happiness? Because in this vivid sentient moment

time has been abolished, the clock of the mind that marks the rhythm of
the hours is silent, and the moment is eternal. Its qualities are
independent of time as they are of formal relationship. They are as
organically a whole as a flower or a perfume. Here the past and the
present have fused, the individual with feet planted in the present and
surrounded with its circumstance is viewing through its medium the
panorama of the past, and both in the vivid moment of consciousness
are indistinguishable. It is as though one were witnessing a cinema of
more than one reel, where the multiple images blend so perfectly that
one is unaware of their different source. More than this, during the
sentient moment, as Proust lived it, even all sense of duration is
suspended. Of such to him is the nature of the essence of reality, it is
timeless; and it is to the study of these moments that he now devotes
his released imagination.
But there is even more reason for happiness. Being
time(118)less these moments are eternal and confer upon the
beholder for the moment the experience of immortality.
But let a sound already heard or an odour caught in bygone
years be sensed anew, simultaneously in the present and the past, real
without being of the present moment, ideal but not abstract, and
immediately the permanent essence of things, usually concealed, is set
free and our true self, which had long seemed dead but was not dead in
other ways, awakes, takes on fresh life as it receives the celestial
nourishment brought to it. A single minute released from the
chronological order of time has re-created in us the human being
similarly released, in order that he may sense that minute. And one
comprehends readily how such a one can be confident in his joy; even
though the mere taste of a madeleine does not seem to contain logical
justification for this joy, it is easy to understand that the word 'death'
should have no meaning for him; situated outside the scope of time,
what could he fear from the future?

Such moments bring happiness to Proust because they are a

revelation of the real personality, which otherwise is always masked
under the commonplace of routine time. But is it always of the same
personality? For personality is to Proust only the 'conglomerate of
sensations' revealed in the lightning flash of these sentient moments.
But it is only of 'the person we then were.' 'But let me see some object
from another bygone time and a different young man will arise within
me. And my inner self of today is merely an abandoned quarry which
believes that all the marble it contains is uniform and monotonous, but
out of which each remembrance, like a Greek sculptor, carves

innumerable statues.' So it will be with all excursions into the sentient

memories of the past. 'I am not the "I" who saw them and must give
place to the "I" which I was at that time in order that he may call forth
the thing he knew, which my present self does not know at all.'

supersensitiveness that may be defended in a creature like a jellyfish

that is always at the mercy of its environment?
It is this that makes most of the motives that govern his various
characters more or less morbid. I am not here thinking of his careful
and detailed descriptions of sexual perversions, the otherwise healthy
and admirable Robert de Saint Loup, and the slowly disintegrating
Baron de Charlus. There is nothing in recent literature that I have read
that describes with more vividness the growing power that this
perversion acquires until its victim in impotent old age dodders while
he vainly strives to indulge. Any form of healthy activity rather than
this! It is not these more dramatic forms of morbidity, and more
repulsive, that I have in mind. But to him even love is morbid and a
disease. His own for Albertine, for instance. But in the first volume of
the series, in the love of Swann for the cocotte Odette, there is a
complete absence of any of the motives a healthy imagination
associates with passion, even in its most physical forms. It is
a(121)disease, malignant and consciously malign, a reptilian spell that
has cast its power over its victim, and he is impotent. It is a mortal
ailment that at first gives some thrills of pleasure, then like a drug habit
becomes its own motive for the addict's doom.

So much then for the real in personality. It is not a chameleon

taking color from circumstance, but a succession of sentient moments;
it is ever created anew as in memory it captures the past. It is not, as in
Gide, revealed in action, but in the quality of its sensitiveness, in its
passive receptivity to the ebb and flow of memory. It is these that bring
the happiness that its revelation ensures; mere action or physical
enjoyment on the other hand are always succeeded by disappointment,
and this is the sign of their base alloy.
And if I recapitulated the disappointments in my life, as far as it
had been lived, which led me to believe that its real essence must lie
somewhere else than in action, and compared different
disappointments, but not in a haphazard manner or merely following
the vicissitudes of my existence, I came to realize clearly(120)that
disappointment in a journey and disappointment in a love affair were
not different in themselves but merely the different aspects assumed in
varying situations by our inability to find our real selves in physical
enjoyment or material activity.

All art is autobiography. So Marcel Proust has it in the last

volume of his series. No artist can get outside of his own memories;
and those of this Frenchman were not what one would call normal.
There was something morbid in the life, even the external life, of this
author, whose highest dread was sunlight and fresh air. Is it then any
wonder that in the reality he discovers for us, and which he transfers to
the canvas of his novels, there is likewise so little of the invigorating
and the lifegiving? For him likewise the reader of a work of art reads
into it always nothing more than the reader's own autobiography--his
own memories of things past. For this reason, if for no other, many a
reader whose life has in it something of the sun and the outdoors, finds
that Proust's reality, though ever so real, is for him also exotic and
having the perfume of the hospital and death chamber. Is not the
criticism then by Aldous Huxley, though unfair, at least significant?

There is something of the attitude of the drug addict in this

desire--is there not?--to reduce life to a succession of sensuously rich
memories of things past. A discriminating French critic, Raymond
Fernandez, has written: ' Proust suffered from a complete
powerlessness to achieve consciousness of life other than under
conditions of purely passive receptivity.' True. But is there not more
that can be laid to his charge? Did he not encourage a sensitive
alertness to these visions of the past to an extent that might more
adequately be described as morbid? A morbid exploiting of his
sensuous past. Thus he finds personality an incoherent sequence of
almost dream states, and experience an incoherence of kaleidoscopic
impressions. Is not this a sign of a certain type of psychic morbidity, a


'How I hate old Proust! Really detest him.' And with a richly
comic eloquence he proceeded to evoke the vision of that asthmatic
seeker of lost time squatting, horribly white and flabby, with breasts
almost female but fledged with long black hairs, for ever squatting in
the tepid bath of his remembered past. And all the stale soap suds of
countless previous washings floated around him, all the accumulated
dirt of years lay crusty on the sides of the tub or hung in dark
suspension in the water. And there he sat, a pale repellent invalid,
taking up spongefuls of his own thick soup and squeezing it over his
face, scooping up cupfuls of it and appreciatively rolling the grey and
gritty liquor round his mouth, gargling, rinsing his nostrils with it, like
a pious Hindu in the Ganges . . .

came to an end with the First World War. As Gide described one of its
symptoms, Proust psychoanalyzed it and recorded in seven novels the
result of his investigation.(123)
'First it was atheism unadorned. Then it was atheism wedded to
Socialism. But Socialism proved too weak-kneed a mate, and the next I
heard Atheism was living in free love with Anarchism, with a curse of
Nietzsche to bless the union. And then came the Bolshevik dawn, and
he greeted that with unholy howls of glee and wrote me he had found a
congenial home at last in the bosom of Karl Marx. He was particularly
delighted when he thought they'd abolished love and marriage, and he
couldn't contain himself when the news came they'd turned naughty
school boys and were throwing spitballs at Almighty God and had
supplanted him with the slave-owning State--the most grotesque god
that ever came out of Asia . . .'

It is the death of an old order that Marcel Proust so cunningly

devises and lives to the life. We perhaps too glibly use the word
decadent. If it has any meaning it must associate (122)itself with a life
that has lost its motive for existence and is seeking for something
spurious, the search for the sensation that accompanies action rather
than for the action, the exploiting of the emotion rather than of the
genuine impulse. And morbidity and illness sharpen sensations and
give an added poignancy to emotion. Thus Proust's characters live on
the fringes of action, in the regions of their accompanying emotions
and sensations. Even an event like the World War gives only one minor
character a generous impulse. It is the beauty of the aeroplanes and the
searchlights that impresses Proust, that and the thrill that accompanies
the detonation of bombs. His books are almost a celebration of the
ecstasy of ill-health.

'A new discipline of life will spring into being, a new will and
power to live, a new ideal to measure the value of our lives by . . . We
need, above all, to learn again to believe in the possibility of nobility of
spirit in ourselves.'

To those to whom an illness is ecstasy the healthy seems banal

and unreal. For sound health has little time to inquire into mental states
because a wholesome nature is unconscious of nerves, ganglia, and
glands. It is only too easy for the sensitively morbid to feel a contempt
for those who are not blessed with the luxury of illness. But as a painter
of this illness, though he himself was afflicted with the malady, Proust
became also one of the most penetrating critics of a degenerate society
of men and women like himself. Better, perhaps because he went to the
roots of the disease, he has written the epic of the real de sicle that

'NOBILITY of spirit'--to be able again to believe in one's self, to have a

firm purpose in life, 'a will and power to live,' all this is the recurrent
theme in nearly all the plays of Eugene O'Neill. But at the same time he
has also found its recipe to be as elusive as all the vagaries and new
purposes of the generation after the war. There is perhaps a little of the
dramatist's autobiography in the words his priest uncle addressed to
bewildered John Loving, and which stand as one motto for this chapter.
To say that he has at last found a final recipe for living is to speak

against the evidence. For each new play has broken new ground, and
revealed a new purpose. What will be the end of the story?

nerves, which in Europe unfortunately were from the close of the war
pitifully exposed. We could afford to be spectators, it couldn't be
otherwise, intellectually interested, devotedly even, but as amateurs.
Europe, on the contrary, lived and bled, while it speculated and wrote.

Perhaps, and probably, this almost amateur readiness to

undertake a new doctrine is the most American trait in Eugene O'Neill,
that and a certain courage--even rashness--to (125)proclaim it. As an
American, O'Neill knows there is something wrong with the world; but
it is rather more of the intellectual knowledge of the observer than the
deeply felt personal experience of the participator. Almost any one of
us in the past twenty years might have written this:

And O'Neill has even more magnificent plans for the future. (126)His
biographer and critic, Mr. Clark, reports that he is planning a cycle of
plays that will be 'something in the style of War and Peace or Jean
Christophe.' And one must be on one's guard against stamping such a
remark as idle boasting, for we remember Strange Interlude and
Mourning Becomes Electra. The dramatist may have the superlative
surprise in store. But also how superbly American is its rash boldness.
But when it comes it will be different from other announced magna
opera, War and Peace or Jean Christophe or even Jules Romains Men
of Good Will. Before it can be set beside these the American dramatist
will have to discover, define, and live, yes even suffer for, his faith.
Has Mr. O'Neill yet discovered a faith to whose service he can devote
his talent?

It is a symbolical and factual biography of what is happening in

a large section of the American (and not only American) soul
right now. It [the play Dynamo] is really the first play of a
trilogy that will dig at the roots of the sickness of today as I feel
it--the death of an old God and the failure of science and
materialism to give any satisfying new one for the surviving
primitive religious instinct to find a meaning for life in, and to
comfort its fears of death with. It seems to me that anyone
trying to do big work nowadays must have this big subject
behind all the little subjects of his plays or novels, or he is
simply scribbling around on the surface of things and has no
more real status than a parlor entertainer.

But his work has shown interest in almost every variety of ideas
of these post-war decades. The strange esoteric fascination of his early
plays, with their exotic South Sea atmosphere--a hangover after the
night's debauch of the War-- The Moon of the Caribbees and the other
plays of the sea. Here is the escape motive, the desire to get away from
it all, and yet the sinister impossibility of finding a paradise. He will
come back again and again to these romantic islands, 'where every
prospect pleases and only man is vile,' in The Emperor Jones, in
Mourning Becomes Electra. Then there is his proletarian tract, before
we in America had yet begun to talk about a special literature devoted
to the class struggle, The Hairy Ape. It was more popular in Europe,
especially in Russia, where for a time it almost became a textbook.
Next came his studies in the new psychology, when his debt to
Strindberg for a time seemed almost to threaten a bankruptcy: Desire
Under the Elms, The Great God Brown. Freud, too, had much to do
with the new technique. But he shook himself free of his masters and
wrote Strange Interlude and Mourning Becomes Electra, and we had

Quite true and granted. Only Europe discovered the fact long
before the war. And it is not always easy to discover this motive
in Mr. O'Neill's early dramas.
Amateur readiness to undertake new ideas--and I use the words
in any but a derogatory sense--does not this describe the American
attitude toward what has been called the 'contemporary problem'? For
until quite recently it has not been, except for the few, an American
problem. Fortunately perhaps for us, the relatively small personal
sacrifice we made in the late war, the relative ease and comfort of
American life, and, until after the economic collapse, the relative
absence of unemployment and the opportunity nearly all possessed for
making a way, all of these things put a cuticle, as it were, above our

something new, genuinely personal, and a landmark in the history of

the American drama.(127)

leaped to life in the imagination of the audience, and the actor had little
to do except appropriately to recite his lines and indulge in gesture. In
tragedy the mask elevated the action above the common level of
humdrum life, and the actor became only the voice speaking through
the features that the best art could define. In a word, the mask as used
in Greece was to hide, so far as possible, the actor, and leave the widest
possible scope to the art of the dramatist and sculptor. O'Neill uses the
mask, on the contrary, to assist the actor. It is his mask that is being
used. So that when he puts on the mask it is to cut him off completely
from the personality he is representing when he speaks with features

Most authors would have felt that they had arrived, that from
now on their career was given over to cultivating the new and rich
field, especially as both plays were given instant recognition and were
even stage successes of the first magnitude. But O'Neill is never more
American than in his unwillingness to be satisfied with one
achievement or two. First a turn again to Nietzsche and the translation
of the gospel of Zarathustra, Thus Spake Zarathustra, into the play
Lazarus Laughed. The story of this man raised from the dead has
puzzled and intrigued more than one imagination.It would be
interesting to contrast O'Neill and Pirandello in their treatment of this
old theme. And the laughter of Lazarus marks a new achievement in
the genesis and exodus of Eugene O'Neill. Later come Dynamo and
Days Without End, with the little comedy, Ah, Wilderness; how
different in theme from anything we had had before. Is the O'Neill of
Days Without End the final O'Neill? He would be a brave critic who
would record a prophecy-- probably Mr. O'Neill himself does not
know. Of one thing we may yet be sure. He is not satisfied--see his
announcement of his magnum opus. What will be its theme? In
consequence it is dangerous, and perhaps quite beside the mark, yet to
speak of O'Neill's work--work obviously unfinished and its goal
unpredictable. But he is the single most significant American of this
post-war epoch. More than any other he does reflect the shifting
interests of America in the 'contemporary problem,' and his range is
almost the complete American range. It would never do to omit O'Neill
in any assessment of the contemporary imagination that carries in its
table of assets such men as Romains, Mann, or Gide.

The old theatre had long known the use of asides, for the
purpose of expressing unspoken thoughts. But it had always been done
in a manner to suggest natural convincingness, and they were always
short, except when the actor was alone on the stage and might, like
Hamlet, lay bare his perplexity in a long soliloquy. But O'Neill has
inserted them into the very heart of rapid dialogue, having a character
speak twice, once in a voice meant to be heard on the stage by his
interlocutors, and once only for the audience. The one is his masked
word, as it were, and the other his true comment. Frequently these are
quite contradictory. They do clutter up the play, slow down the
dialogue, and make it in one way a bit confusing to an untrained
audience. But they throw floods of light upon what is really happening
in the minds of the characters.
But perhaps more startling is the liberty he has taken with the
long-established length of the play. Three hours has always been
thought to be about the limit of an audience's patience. Goethe, of
course, wrote the second part of Faust, that is an epic in its length. But
Goethe's play has only been(129)acted as a celebration, a fiesta for
Goethe lovers, and not as an ordinary dramatic enterprise. There have
been other long experiments. Then came Strange Interlude, as long as a
trilogy of Greek tragedies, to be followed by Mourning Becomes
Electra, a trilogy itself and longer than the Greek, and one that will not
permit any long intervals between its three parts. Our age has become
accustomed to the sesquipedalian novel; it now is being introduced to

This is not the place to speak at any length of his technical

experiments and innovations. For example, though he was not the first
to use the mask to give on the stage the effect of change in personality,
yet he has used it in a manner that is quite novel. The Greeks used
masks in tragedy and comedy(128)to define their characters; in comedy
to express and fix the comic type, the rogue, the boastful soldier, the
courtesan, and the like. So soon as the mask appeared the character

an equally extended drama. The old dramatic canons will have to be reexamined and defined. O'Neill has done more than any other to help
confuse the distinction between the novel and the drama. Or would it
be fairer to say that some of his dramas have themes that perhaps could
more successfully be treated in the more extended and freer form of the

greatness. Emperor Jones, once a porter, and fugitive from a penal

sentence, has now by his resourcefulness made himself master of all he
surveys in an island in the Caribbean. He is Emperor and Dictator and
all the islanders are his frightened subjects. To them he is the superb
superman, equipped with supernatural powers, not to be wounded by an
ordinary weapon, and they cringe before him. He has come, almost, to
believe in himself. Calmly he has provided against all contingencies.
His treasure he has cached near the sea shore, and carefully and
methodically he has surveyed a path to the shore through the forest,
leaving himself supplies by the way, safe and secure for a quick
getaway. He is utterly confident.

In spite of the changes that have come in O'Neill's ideas on life

and its problems, all of his plays can be said to have one central theme.
It is the persistent question that he has put to life, and as persistent has
been the variety of the answers: the why and the how of failure, and of
the disintegration of personality that is the sign of failure. His
characters are ever discovering the always imminent possibility of
losing the way, of missing the motive that might give life a meaning
and keep personality intact. In a word, how can one find, not success
perhaps, but the compensation of peace and happiness? Nearly all of
his plays, and all of the more significant, have never lost sight of this
central problem. He may have toyed with atheism and socialism--and
he has--but it has always been for its bearing on the life of the single
individual. O'Neill never thinks in masses. His earlier plays dealt more
specifically with the failure to find the way; his later, speaking more
generally, have found some sort of answer that will bring some variety
of peace. What, then, does the American O'Neill have to give us as his
ideas on life?

Now when the play opens his subjects have revolted. He is

alone in the palace, quite unperturbed yet in his loneliness. The signal
of the revolt, in unterrified daylight, the constant beat of the drums as
the remote villages assemble, he scoffs at, and takes his time. There is
the food in the forest, he knows the way in the dark. He will wait in
leisure before he sets out.
But night in the forest is different, and the well-marked path
obscure, and behind and ever nearer the throb, throb of the menacing
drums. His old superstitions and inherited fears of the supernatural
awake, and he begins to see things. His acquired confidence and
resourcefulness, his jauntiness,(131)where have they disappeared to,
under the welter of age-old inherited instinct? But he can be killed--he
has told them-- only by a silver bullet. And he plunges forward, blindly
firing at phantoms, until at last, utterly lost and frantic, he himself fires
the fated silver bullet.

Put in this way the problem is not uniquely contemporary at all.

It is as old as human nature. Our new science only(130)shifts the
ground and makes complacency and faith a little more difficult. It is
like having a house with a new perspective opened up by alterations in
the landscape. New adjustments within must be made to bring both into
a new harmony.

The disintegration of the jaunty, successful Negro porter into

the savage, cringing before the terror of darkness, is an interesting
study in psychology. It is more; the audience, like the hero, is held in
the suspense of imaginative terror by the insistent throb of the drums
and the overwhelming uprush of the savage. Buried tradition, the
instinct that lies deep and perhaps forgotten, can be revived, given the
appropriate stimulus; and of the nature of this coming no one can
predict. But the effect here on Emperor Jones was tragic. Deep under

Perhaps the best, as well as the most famous, of his early plays
is The Emperor Jones. In a way we have here something that suggests
ancient and Shakespearean tragedy. Simpler, to be sure, because the
former Negro porter is an elemental character quite, in comparison with
Macbeth or Oedipus. But the play also has the grand simplicity of real

all his acquired confidence in himself, the Emperor was only a

primitive, fear-ridden savage, no different from his subjects. There was
nothing else--and lacking something instinctive to support him, he
reverted to type. America in those days was interested in primitive
cults, and the theme of The Hairy Ape is only slightly different. But
O'Neill took the American interest, put life into it, gave it an esoteric
setting, and made excellent drama.

intensity of this passionate plea raises it above the sordid level of its
commonplace people--like Hauptmann's inconspicuous weavers--and
gives them kinship with the heroes of tragedy.
But Desire Under the Elms for its world took only the lesser
folk of a village. There was little in it to tempt the easy reader to make
the application universal. In Strange Interlude and again in Mourning
Becomes Electra this theme is given more than a rural or provincial
background. The first comes down to our own times and to people yet
in their prime. The second, though the time is the American Civil War,
strives to be as universal in its application to the New England tradition
in America as the old Greek trilogy by Aeschylus was to the classic
Greek. And both these plays are O'Neill at his technical best. We may
quarrel with the theme, we shall quarrel with his picture of New
England, but no one can deny to these two plays the birthright
of(133)power and persuasiveness. They are O'Neill at his best, perhaps
a mistaken best, but none the less significant.

There was a time, not long ago in years, but changes in fashion
come rapidly in these our times, when the name of Freud was in every
headline and we talked of complexes and suppressed desires. We did
excellent comedy with that theme. O'Neill turned it into the most
serious drama, even tragedy. How popular, for example, was Desire
Under the Elms, a sombre thing, filled, too, with his pet prejudice, the
New England conscience. A prejudice, I suspect, due to his inheritance,
and which in spite of all his genius and flexibility he has never been
able to overcome. It is only too easy, obvious to some perhaps, to think
of the puritan New England conscience as the working of a Freudian
complex, and its moral aspect only an ugly mask assumed to hide its
still more ugly origins. This was to many the motive that made(132)the
play popular, this and its uncompromising hardness. For the play was
written in the days when no one could use the word 'mid-Victorian'
without a sneer, and 'puritan' without a complacent smirk of release
from its supposed drab hypocrisy. To label it a puritan, mid-Victorian
Freudian complex was voluptuous revenge, a far more gross one than
George Santayana took in The Last Puritan.

But though these plays have Freud for their first inspiration, the
author has shaken himself partly free from his master. We become
interested in the technique of the complexes, as in Pirandello we are
interested in the technique delusion uses to mask itself. But we also are
interested in something much more important, the personality of the
characters. And in this O'Neill is greater than Pirandello. All
Pirandello's characters are little more than personified ideas of the
mortal ailments that all human nature is afflicted with, and no more,
and they are made expressly for the play in which they exhibit
themselves. Even in imagination they never pass beyond the clinical
walls of the drama. Not so with O'Neill: his characters stand forth in
their own right and proclaim themselves as personalities above and
beyond the scope of the action of the plays. They are not merely cases
for the psychiatrist, they are interesting and human for themselves. We
are warmly interested in their reaction to fate, not coolly participating
in a clinic. This warm sympathy with his characters O'Neill always has.
They have taken charge of the situation, and their actions and reactions
in consequence are sometimes surprising, and always convincing. Nor
does the American dramatist, as does the Italian, always project himself

But the play is something more than a play about New England
and a stone cast at its supposed uncompromising ugliness. It is a play of
frustration; so will be most of his later ones. And frustration when
pushed to tragedy has a power at times that challenges admiration from
even the unwilling. There is something elemental here, a display of
forces that move individuals even against their wills and almost without
their consciousness, that give a natural dignity even to the lowest. It is
an elemental protest against life which has not given human nature its
rightful human inheritance, a chance to find something greater than
itself to which it can give loyal service. It is a plea for justice. The very

into the play and insist on riding home on the moral--again as the
clinical demonstrator who closes the demonstration with an exegesis. It
is O'Neill who has used Freud, not Freud who has used O'Neill.

be a comfort to get home--to be old and to be home again at

last--to be in love with peace together--to love each other's
peace --to sleep with peace together--!'

For example Strange Interlude, though it has for its theme the
repression of sex followed by a corresponding abandonment to sex, by
no means confines itself to this single theme. A very considerable
panorama of the war and post-war epoch is passed in review, and much
of it quite indirectly related to the main theme. It is as loose in plot as a
Shakespearean history play. The heroine, the daughter of a highly
conventional college professor, is engaged to be married to a
young(134)soldier about to leave for France. They discuss immediate
marriage, but the father, selfishly cautious and thinking of possible
eventualities, persuades them to postpone the wedding till Gordon's
return. The young man honorably consents, and then is killed in battle.
Now the call of sex and the desire to give herself becomes
overmastering and Nina as a nurse to invalided soldiers is as generous
as before she had been repressed.

These are the main outlines of the play: again the disintegration
of a personality by the sudden surge of unsuspected instinct. The
veneer of propriety--thin and perilous though apparently solid and well
founded--gives way, and something quite unsuspected rises and moves
swiftly toward tragedy. A strange interlude, strange but humanly
convincing. How(135)shall the tossed, and apparently now quite
irresponsible, discover peace and harmony? Will the quiet and matterof- fact affection of Charlie, so like the quiet and matter-of-fact
affection of her now dead father, lay the ghosts of the past? A hurricane
too is an interlude, but it can also leave a world of desolation in its
A much more daring experiment was Mourning Becomes
Electra.And here, because he has deliberately challenged comparison
with the Greek, it is well to compare the different attitudes toward the
plot of the Greek and the contemporary American. The modern veneer
of civilization has by no means deadened the call of outraged
vengeance. The instinct is present and on call can come forth with
overwhelming power. It did it in the play of Aeschylus--it does it again
in the play by O'Neill--but there is yet a very significant difference. (By
nearly all critics it has been assumed that O'Neill is following the
tradition as set in the three plays by Aeschylus, that take up the three
chapters of the tragedy--Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers
(Choephoroi), and The Furies (Eumenides). But there are plays also of
Sophocles and Euripides on the story of Electra. It seems evident to me
that O'Neill is most indebted to Euripides. And, in particular, to one
scene in Euripides, where there is a possibility of a suggestion that
Electra was attracted by Aegisthus, the guilty paramour of her mother
Clytemnestra. A free translation of this passage could have given the
hint. This love in O'Neill is almost the central motive for the tragedy.)

So far the theme is purely Freudian, but the sequel is more

strange than what had gone before. She marries, but after the wedding
learns from a relative that there is insanity in her husband's family, and
to have children would be to pass on a curse to the next generation. Has
O'Neill here been guilty of admitting something really foreign to the
theme, something arbitrary and quite accidental? In order to make the
sequel has he not dragged in something almost unconvincing in its
unexpectedness? But the result, again the sex complex, again
repressions, and inhibitions. And it is not until the end of the story,
when her son--a medical friend who knew the circumstances had
offered himself that she might have a child--is now ready for college
and his adventure with the unknown, that a sort of Indian Summer
brings a mild substitute for peace:
'You're so restful, Charlie. I feel as if I were a girl again and you
were my father and the Charlie of those days made into one. I
wonder is our old garden the same? We'll pick flowers together
in the aging afternoons of spring and summer, won't we? It will

The story of the ill-starred family of Agamemnon is a thriller.

The general of the Greek armies, and fortunate king and husband of the

regal Clytemnestra, when he set forth on the expedition against Troy

left behind him two smouldering fires of revenge. His father had been
guilty of the blood of his own brother and nephews. One of the boys,
Aegisthus, had been spared and was now growing to manhood with but
one purpose in life--to shed the blood of his more fortunate kinsman.
But even more sinister was the pain he left in the heart of his wife, for
before sailing, to insure the success of the enterprise, Agamemnon had
been forced to slay his own daughter Iphigenia. During the long years
of the war, the(136)wife and the cousin can brood and plot, making
common cause in behalf of justice. Justice--the call is as old as human
nature. It's a wild kind of justice that this fierce and elemental woman
metes out to her unsuspecting husband when, ten years after, he returns
as conqueror and hero from Troy. And a wild kind of justice that the
fatherless children, Electra and Orestes, the girl and the boy, later mete
out to their mother and her guilty partner.

undertaking. Sophocles' Electra is not O'Neill's. She is a soldier by fate,

by nature of a quite different texture. But duty-Euripides' Electra comes nearest to the American. She
was(137)once in the years long ago, before her father's murder, sound
and wholesome. But her mother's unnatural cruelty, inspired by fear for
her own safety, and her mother's fascinated love for Aegisthus had
tortured her youth into silent hatred. She has been married to a peasant,
that her seed cannot hope to inherit the kingdom. Now sullen and
resolute, twisted with a moral resentment against her mother, she is
biding the day. She has only one motive for living, Orestes and
revenge. Yet this is not all, for she is a richer personality than any in all
Greek tragedy. When on the fatal day preparations are made for the
sacrifice, she falters. Her mother comes, with love for her daughter
newly awakened, and Electra must whip her melting hatred into
scorpion malevolence before she is ready for the deed. Yet Euripides'
heroine is sound; it is only old circumstance that has altered her, and
new circumstance almost restores the mother-loving child.

The Greek tragedians each treated the plot in his own way,
shifting the motive to suit his interest and his understanding of human
nature. Aeschylus is not greatly interested in character, but in the
human and humane institutions that can temper and bring reason to the
primitive call for revenge and justice. His characters are all morally and
mentally sound, but, driven by the elemental call for blood, loose
passion on passion. Blood will have blood, though it be the blood of the
nearest in kin and a mother whose breasts first nourished the vengeful
child. Only institutions of justice can transfer the call from the outraged
person to outraged society, so the victim can lay his burden on the
shoulders of the law. So Aeschylus. And Aeschylus is least like the
contemporary O'Neill. Sophocles is interested primarily in the moral
problem for the individual and its effect on personality. His Electra is at
least sound morally and mentally; but loneliness and a brooding sense
of injustice have made her hard, hard and implacable. It is only when
she meets the brother she had heard is dead that the barriers of ice melt
suddenly, and like a spring spate her true affectionate nature sweeps her
mind clear. Revenge is forgotten until by a warning attendant she is
called to a duty that now seems so foreign to her newly revealed nature.
It is the mortal, tragic irony of Sophocles that a person so unfitted for
the task should heroically bend her nature, by sheer will, to its

O'Neill charges his characters at the beginning with the

explosive that given the opportunity brings about the tragedy. None of
them from General Mannon (Agamemnon) to Orin (Orestes) is
fundamentally sound. The general's marriage to Christine was a folly,
for temperamentally they are snow and fire. Orin has a truly morbid
love for his now morbid mother. Electra (Lavinia) is as morbidly in
love with her father. It is a family with a hundred motives for tragedy,
and needing only occasion to strike the spark. Even Captain Brant
(Aegisthus) is not of the Greek pattern, but a half- unwilling tool. His
case against the family of General Mannon is petty and sordid in
comparison with the feud that drove his Greek original. And the love
that mated him with Christine has more of a dash of contemporary
scandal than a touch of tragedy. Add to all this the hidden love of
Electra for Aegisthus, and we have in sum a Freudian story of sex,
perverted in general, sound only where the plot is least tragic. And to
climax the climax, we have Electra transfer her unconscious sexual
hunger finally to her brother. It is all a pathetic tangle, that a competent
physician might have(138)unravelled. But not so with the Greek. No

Mourning Becomes Electra is O'Neill's high water mark, and of

the new American tragedy. It may be, probably is, a blind alley; for
without some vital moving faith in human personality itself or in some
higher power that can give dignity to human endeavor there can be no
peace. Tragedy when thus unrelieved becomes not much more than a
brutal and meaningless fate, pathetically irrelevant for a well-meaning
Nina, savage in its relentlessness for Electra. Had hope and peace come
to either it would have been as unhuman as their distress. In his later
work the American dramatist has taken another direction.

physician could have brought peace to the hearts of the Electras or

Clytemnestras or Orestes of the Attic theater. The call there was rather
for a competent police.
O'Neill's play is powerful. It delineates in sharp detail the final
disintegration of a whole family. But there was no soundness in them,
even from the beginning. Here we have rather one contemporary
substitute for tragedy--tragedy with Fate, not as an ironic destiny, but
as a Freudian obsession, repression, the subliminal self suddenly
coming into full control and sweeping blindly to destruction. It is
tragedy with a formula from the new science of psychology. Its
inevitability is like that of an attack of cholera. It is not an ironical,
malicious, and brutal world that crushes the flower of personality;
rather it is psychological insufficiency within the personality, for which
it is no more responsible than the host of a virulent baccilus, that
becomes its undoing.

Can man discover peace? Is there a possible motive for life that
will reconcile all conflict, bring harmony, and unlock even the
brooding mystery of Death? What is Life? What is Death? The search
for an answer is the search for a faith, an active faith, not a consolation
for life or a compensation, but an inward force directing life and
activity itself, something in itself spiritual, that science cannot measure
into formulas, nor the psychologist define. It is an inward search for a
treasure of the spirit, eternal and universal. How different this from the
earlier O'Neill, and yet in its way quite consistent, for it is the very
absence of a final goal in all his earlier answers to the contemporary
problem that drives him now to the answer of Religion.

In a way, after all, O'Neill might recall the optimism of

Aeschylus. To the stalwart Greek soldier, the reign of perfect law
would remove all cause of tragedy. It was only the lack of adequate
moral institutions--these can be no better than the people that produce
and work them. So O'Neill and many like him seem to feel that if only
the expert psychiatrist could devise an adequate mental purge, all evils,
like those that led to the strange interlude or that destroyed the Mannon
household, could be avoided. Faith in an ultimate scientific cure,
pinning one's faith to the doctor.

'Death is Life,' cries the newly arisen Lazarus to the astonished

and questioning group of his old neighbors, and he laughed, laughed
long and musically, and contagiously, as the world was to discover. His
laughter is the answer and the challenge of Life to Death.

All this is an easy and obvious criticism that does not quite dig
to the roots and discover the true O'Neill. Every one of the characters in
this play has also a personal quarrel with fate. It is this, as in all of his
plays, that has given the passionate intensity to this old story of a
family feud. Though the motives have been transformed, as must be in
this our century, the old tragic resentment is there and the ancient plea
for justice. To those who must see in life a formal pattern, their words
will always be wild and whirling. But so(139)also is a tempest. It is the
power of this tempest of unexpected emotion that comes very close to
awakening the pity and terror of orthodox tragedy.

The story of Lazarus who was raised from the dead has long
intrigued the imagination. What had he seen during those three days
while his body was swathed in the tomb and(140)his spirit free to
question Eternity? This has been a favorite theme, and good
dissertations might be written on the repeated efforts to translate
Lazarus' experience into drama and story. O'Neill Lazarus Laughed is a
splendid experiment. But there is as much Nietzsche as O'Neill, and
Lazarus at times speaks almost the words of the prophet Zarathustra.
(See Nietzsche'sThus Spake Zarathustra, or Zoroaster. He is the halfmythical founder of the pre-Islamic religion of Persia.)

Who among you can at the same time laugh and be exalted? He
who climbeth on the highest mountains, laugheth at all tragic
plays and tragic realities.

the once well-known romantic cosmic emotion that gave Shelley his
poetry, and behind it the romantic philosophy of pantheism.
The contagion of this romantic joy in life. It transforms those
that listen to Lazarus' laughter; and they are many and various. The
Greeks in Athens, who are about to revolt against the sombre rule of
the Romans, catch its infection even before Lazarus appears, and in
their multitudinous laughter the old feud is forgotten. The death-weary
Roman world for a moment is transformed, lighted by a new joy in life.
His followers in an ecstasy of laughter throw themselves upon the
swords of the legionaries sent to quell them. What is the hope of mere
personal immortality to this ecstasy? 'Away with such cowardice of
spirit [as to long for personal immortality]. We will to die! We will to
change! Laughing we lived with our gift, now with laughter give we
back that gift to become again the Essence of the Giver! Dying we
laugh with the Infinite! We are the Giver and the Gift! Laughing we
give our lives for Life's sake. . . . O God, now I am laughing with you-I am your laughter--and you are mine.'

. . . I should only believe in a God that would know how to

. . . Now am I light, now do I fly; now do I see myself under
myself. Now there danceth a God in me.-'There is no death'; instead the glad, free, acceptance of life, for
all is life, and death only the gateway to its universal flood of laughter.
This is the meaning that Lazarus discovered during those three days.
And it brought joy to a man who before had been harassed by life.
'There is no longer sorrow in his eyes. They must have forgotten
sorrow in the grave.' He forgot also age, for steadily as time passes he
grows younger. But his wife Miriam, who can't understand, grows
older, and as she passes he speaks these words of comfort, words that
express the eternal paradox of those who cling to life and the things one
loves: 'There is God's laughter on the hills of space, and the happiness
of children, and the soft healing of innumerable dawns and evenings,
and the blessing of Peace.' This is Wordsworth.

Tiberius the old, and Caligula the young, both obsessed with
fear of Death, and striving by lust and cruelty to poison fear, the
dissolute Pompeia, searching for an anodyne to fear in the ecstasy of
sense, all ask the same selfish question of life, all desire only hope of
survival of the single self. To them comes the quick answer of Lazarus.
'What is--you? But there is hope for Man. Hope for you, Tiberius
Caesar? Then dare to love Eternity without your fear desiring to
possess(142) her . . . I know that age and time are but timidities of
thought.' And when finally Lazarus is thrown to the flames, as the last
gesture of a doubting Emperor, Pompeia joins him in a frenzy, and the
soldiers exclaim in easy allegory: 'We love men flaming toward the
stars.' To them comes the last ringing shout of triumph from the martyr.
'Life, Eternity, Stars and Dust, God's eternal laughter.'

Hence in a season of calm weather,

Though inland far we be,
Our souls have sight of that immortal sea
Which brought us hither,
Can in a moment travel thither,
And see the children sport upon the shore,
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore. (141)
But there is a word more. When Miriam dies, he exclaims to
comfort himself: 'Man's loneliness is but his fear of life, lonely no
more; millions of laughing stars that are around me: and laughing dust,
born once of woman on this earth, now freed to dance! There is only
God's eternal laughter! His laughter flows into the lonely heart.' This is

The play is ecstatic; the symbolism of its laughter is pushed too

far. The theme is by no means a contemporary one, but on the contrary
as old as mysticism itself. But it is significant--is it not?--for a
contemporary who speaks of ,the contemporary problem' to discover

for it an answer that is as old, almost, as human poetry, the ecstatic loss
of personality in a sense of oneness with the All. It is the theme of
Nietzsche Birth of Tragedy. But the leap into the infinite is the mystic's
way of escape from the evils of the present. And there was one question
asked that the play in part at least left unanswered. The old and stricken
Tiberius asked wistfully--it was his last question--'Is there hope of love
somewhere for men on earth?'

exterior he is a creative artist and passionate lover of life, whom his

other personality never quite permits full self- expression. And when
for a moment he lifts his mask, he is unrecognized except by the
woman of the street, Cybil, Mother Earth, who alone comes to know
and appreciate him.
Again it is a tragedy of frustration. There is no room today for
Dionysus or perhaps for Saint Anthony. The Great God Brown has
taken care of that. But both Dion and Anthony desire a god--the god of
this life and the sheer ecstasy of creative living, or the god of wrath and
ascetic denial. The Great God Brown on the contrary is only the idol of
the market place and the image to whom all the millions of William
Browns offer their sacrifice of material success. O'Neill is digging here
'at the roots of the sickness of today' as he feels it. The old gods are
dead and science and materialism have not been able to provide a
spiritual substitute.

Is there hope of love? Here is a question again quite beyond the

purlieus of science. And in his latest play O'Neill faces the question and
offers an answer, again not a new one but as old as human affection.
Immortality and love: the two most highly prized ideals of human
nature, in whose service human nature has achieved its highest
humanity. His answer to the quest for immortality is given in Lazarus
Laughed; his answer to the quest for the power and significance of love
is given in Days Without End; and the very title of the play suggests its

As a study in character and as a theme, the play is powerfully

moving; as a plot it is inconclusive. To the same problem and the
experiment with masks O'Neill was to return(144)years later with a
more poignant situation and a possible solution.

O'Neill had tried nearly ten years before to tell the story of a
dual personality, of a person torn between two quite contradictory
motives for life--the Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, if we will, that to
some extent are latent in all of us. It was the Great God Brown. As the
author himself describes it, it is the story of the 'creative joy in life for
life's sake(143)frustrated, rendered abortive, distorted by morality from
Pan into Satan, into a Mephistopheles masking himself to feel alive.'
The very name of the chief character, Dion Anthony, suggests his state
of chronic civil war, Dion, Dionysus, the god of the free sensuous life
and creative joy in living. Arrayed against him is the ascetic, selfmartyred Saint Anthony, painfully crucifying temptation, that the pure
in spirit may prevail.

Days Without End is the story of the two John Lovings, and
both are the same man--the one figure masked and cynical, the other
tragic, sensitive, and the apprehensive asker of the question, is there
hope for love? Doubtless there is more than a hint of an autobiography
in this play, with the plot of a novel and the moral of a Tolstoyan short
story. When a boy John Loving had loved his parents with an affection
bordering on religion. And then at a blow death had deprived him of
both parents and hope. Now no longer can he allow himself ever to
become the victim of love, never permit the occasion to arise when he
could again be at the mercy of it and of life. So gradually there grows
the second John Loving, hard, cynical, and experimenting with all the
philosophies that might give him a mastery over life and an armored
peace. He becomes the wayward ward of his uncle, Father Mathew
Baird, and thus it is that he runs the gamut of the various contemporary

Who is, then, Dion Anthony? The figure who wears the
mocking mask, restless, adventurous, cynical? Or the sensitive, tortured
spirit behind the mask, that is thwarted at every turn by friends and
circumstance? It is the bold and cynical masked Mephistopheles that
wins the love of Margaret, and holds it in spite of all the disaster that
follows in his naive and bewildering conduct. For behind the cynical

FatherBaird: Hear what, Jack?

obsessions from atheism to Bolshevism and finally negative Buddhism.

He is going to throttle life.

John Loving: Life laughs with God's love again! Life laughs
with love!

But again, and against the will of his cynical self, he discovers
love, Elsa. And with his marriage to her his problem becomes suddenly
most acute. Must he kill this new love or 'again let love put him at the
mercy of life'? He is afraid of her and yet generously idealizes her, and
has built a new superstructure of love about her. Swayed thus by
contradictory motives, suddenly for a moment the guard of the real
John Loving is lowered. The masked Loving accepts a challenge from a
Lucy Hillman, and the way now is clear to test his ability to free
himself from the trap into which love had cast him.

Is this also O'Neill's last word?

There have been many in these later years that have returned to
the faith of our fathers, and its efficacy for giving motive and meaning
to life. But is not O'Neill's return one with a difference? Is this return to
the altar of his boyhood only an emotional cleansing of the mind of its
perilous stuff? Is it only a species of the well-known romantic
conversion? Or is there behind it, as for many, the foundation of a
philosophy and an intellectual creed? It is too early yet for a final
answer. For those like T. S. Eliot who have returned to the church, or
like Thomas Mann who have returned to a personal faith in Deity, there
has been the long preliminary discipline, the long sojourn in the valley
of the Hollow Men(146)or on the Magic Mountain and the purgatory of
Ash Wednesday, before there was the vision of acceptance and healing.
There has been a deal of wandering in the desert for Eugene O'Neill;
has he now suddenly, without the discipline of the crossing of the
Jordan, entered upon the richness of the Promised Land?(147)

How shall he test his wife? How discover whether her love for
him is strong enough to stand the strain? So he writes an
autobiographical novel, the story of his conflict with life, and its crisis.
Only Lucy, too, has had her need of(145)making a confession, and
without giving names has told her story to Elsa. Now when he reads
aloud the corresponding chapter of the novel, the wife's eyes are
opened. It is not fiction she is listening to but a confession. What shall
she do? Life, hope, love depend on her answer, as the two Lovings, one
cool and cynically critical, the other passionately breaking under the
strain, watch her effort at suicide, its failure, and then her return to hope
and forgiveness. Will this forgiveness and the peace of mind it brings
banish forever his masked and cynical antagonist? The penitent Loving
pushes the cynical Loving aside and rushes, as a child with a child's
faith, to the altar of a near-by chapel. For without an abounding faith in
divine mercy and love, there can be no unassailable faith in an abiding
human forgiveness and love. The play closes and love has the last

'Lead us from the unreal to the real.'

FatherBaird: (stares at him gently) It's all right now, Jack, Elsa
will live.


John Loving: (exaltedly) I know! Love lives forever! Death is

dead! Ssshh! Listen! Do you hear?

'Our life, like a river, strikes its banks not to find itself closed in by
them, but to realize anew every moment that it has its unending
opening towards the sea. It is a poem that strikes its metre at every step

not to be silenced by its rigid regulations, but to give expression every

moment to the inner freedom of its harmony.
Fortunately India has no need for an abstract interpretation of
her philosophy. Consistently from the beginning she has striven to
translate its ideas into practice in literature. She has a long tradition
from the earliest days of the lyrics of the Vedas and epics to the writers
of today, and these are not inconspicuous. It is fortunate that one of her
most gifted writers has equal facility in his own vernacular and in
English--and the fame of his poetry won him the Nobel Prize for
literature in 1913--Rabindranath Tagore. Not only as an interpreter of
the spirit of a people that gave leadership to Gandhi, but as an author
that speaks in his own right, Tagore, in his poems, poetic and
allegorical dramas, and essays, is a source of illumination of the creed
of India.

IT WAS not so many years ago, as years were once counted, when
Gandhi flashed upon the Western consciousness with his novel gospel
of regeneration. Not that the West had not long known India. But it was
only as a country of strange contradictions, grotesque faiths and
traditions, and an esoteric philosophy. It was a country for scholars,
tourists, and missionaries, all more or less inspired by the complacent
feeling that while the West had probably much to learn from the East, it
had far more to impart. India should be prepared for the blessings of
Western civilization. It was in those good old days--is it possible that
they were only a generation ago?--that Kipling sang the East is East
and the West is West, and never the twain shall meet. How few then
felt the real depths in that obvious refrain?

Maya, the doctrine that sees this world as illusion and the aim
of life an escape from its false allurements and the attainment of eternal
peace; Nirvana, the doctrine old as Buddha, whose mission was to
teach us so to live that the claims of life might be allowed and yet
man's soul not mired in illusion on its eternal journey. Such was the
central problem of(150)the Bhagavat-Gt, the Lord's Song, that
sermon* in poetry before which all India bows. More than once in India
and in the West this interesting poem has been set beside the Sermon
on the Mount, another sermon in poetry. There are striking similarities,
and as striking differences--the vast difference between the spirit of
Christianity and the best in the spirit of Hinduism. The predicament of
the hero of that song was not dissimilar to ours today, an unpleasant
and hateful world, hateful the motives that one must meet, how then,
short of nihilism and an erasure of the problem, shall a man live and
not be defiled?

Yet suddenly with the coming of Gandhi the scene changed.

India's imagination caught fire again as he breathed new life into the
old tradition of his people. How easily he seemed to live his dynamic
faith--a faith older in India than history. It was the theme of the
Bhagavat-Gt: a man should 'live a life in closest communion with
God, while not(149)allowing his duties to the world to suffer any
abatement.' And what was this God and how serve him? To define God
is perhaps beyond our powers, but Mr. Gandhi's answer to the second
question was in the orthodox manner: selflessness and ahimsa, noninjury, and passive resistance to evil. As a result there followed the
redefining of the constitution of a World Empire. And now in this
generation we are having the return invasion of occidental Europe and
America by the ideas of India. The philosophy of Maya, illusion,
separateness, and Nirvana, peace through renunciation and Yoga, have
become themes for radio programs and best sellers. And the doctrines
of India are pointed to as the only way out of our manifold evils.The
philosophy of India is described in a chapter of The Golden Thread.
There the emphasis is on the relation of this philosophy to the classic
literature from the days of the Vedas to the period of the great dramas.

The scene in the epic, the Mahabharata, where the song occurs,
is dramatic enough. The hero Arjuna is standing before his army drawn
up for battle. Beside him is his divine charioteer Krishna. Before him is
the rival army of his cousins. His allies are strangers, his enemy his
kindred, how shall he give the sign of battle that shall unloose the


hideous strife and bloodshed? How can he avoid sin? And in fear he
throws down his weapons and turns to the god.

Looking likewise on thine own Law, thou shouldst not be

dismayed; for to a knight there is no thing more blest than a
lawful strife.

As I look, O Krishna, upon these kinsfolk meeting for battle,

my limbs fail and my face withers.

. . . But if thou wilt not wage this lawful battle, then wilt thou
fail thine own Law and thine honour, and get sin.

Trembling comes upon my body, and upstanding of the hair;

Gndva falls from my hand, and my skin burns. I cannot stand
in my place; my mind is as if awhirl.

No pacificism here; but a warning, and in it is the heart of

India's mystery. This action must proceed with no desire of
personal gain or advantage. Duty, yes, but not a longing for the
fruits of one's duty.

Contrary are the omens that I behold, O Long-Haired One. I see

no blessing from slaying of kinsfolk in strife;

Holding in indifference alike pleasure and pain, gain and loss,

conquest and defeat, so make thyself ready for the fight; thus
shalt thou get no sin.

I desire not victory, O Krishna, nor kingship, nor delights. What

shall avail me kingship, O Lord of the Herds, or pleasures, or

. . . Works defile Me not! in Me is no longing for fruit of

Works. He who recognizes Me as such is not fettered by Works.

The Gt is the answer of the god to the bewildered hero. There

are three lessons the true follower of peace must learn if he would
attain the vision and live aright. The first, that death and life are not the
antithetical things that terrify only imperfect knowledge. The soul is
immortal and persists:

. . . In Works be thine office; in their fruits must it never be. Be

not moved by the fruits of Works; but let not attachment to
worklessness dwell in thee.

As a man lays aside outworn garments and takes others that are
new, so the Body-Dweller puts away outworn bodies and goes
to others that are new.(151)

Abiding under the Rule and casting off attachment, O WealthWinner, so do thy Works, indifferent alike whether thou gain or
gain not. Indifference is called the Rule.

So this evil thing we call death is after all only the opening of a
new door, and pain, the necessary creaking of its hinges. The
wise can ignore.

And here is the lesson of detachment, indifference, selflessness,

that must be the only motive in living. 'Indifference is called the Rule.'
Only through this can be attained that peace and harmony with the
universe that is the expressed and unexpressed longing of every soul-Nirvana.

But further the prince is a knight, brought up in arms and in

knightly deeds. His virtue, or dharma, is the enforcement of justice
against the doer of evil. Now he is engaged in a war to restore justice to
an outraged generation. As a warrior it is his duty to fight that justice
may prevail on earth.

An austere doctrine, so it seems at first, as it is baldly

and(152)yet powerfully presented in the slokas of the Gt. How can
this severe disinterestedness, this loss of desire, self-annihilation it
might seem, be reconciled with that joy in life and in nature and in

action that is also, like the desire for peace and harmony, innate in
every human heart? Must the soldier be an iron man devoid of feeling
as he goes into the war to establish justice? Is the river happy only at
last when it has been lost in the sea, and the melody achieved only
when the last note is silent? Is our world of cabbages and kings, our
world to which the senses cling with agonized insistence, only the
world of Maya and to be denied, and the real to be found only in the
Absolute and hence supersensuous? Is the deepest poetry of life to be
found only in those transcendent moments, when all sense of human
personality is lost in the annihilating ecstasy?

from ancient Greece and not greatly modified by the imperial tradition
of Rome. Even in the primitive village there were village elders, the
panchayat, and the elder in chief, the head-man. With all that the
nineteenth and the twentieth centuries have brought of Europe to this
alien soil, these old institutions and loyalties still have their hold of
orthodoxy. The Indian prince, though he may imitate many of the
practices of the West, still has his open days of durbar when he takes
his seat on the royal gadhi, the throne, and dispenses a personal justice.
And in the villages the courts of arbitration held informally before the
elders have a binding force that even the love for litigation cannot quite
overcome. Personal relationships and personal loyalties--again the ideal
of a human family.

These are questions that have troubled Indian poetry for many
centuries. What has Tagore, speaking for the India of today, to offer in
answer? Has he discovered the illumination that can make such a
philosophy a motive, not only for the commander of armies, but also
for the common soldier who bears the burden?

A rural people, even to its aristocracy, with an instinctive

aversion to cultivating urban traditions, Indians more than Europeans,
except in these later generations, are taught to feel the influence of
nature. The majesty of nature is celebrated by the nameless singers of
the prehistoric Rig Veda. The dramas and epics of the classical age are
full of the power of nature. And everything is at hand in India to make
a people nature conscious. The sacred Ganges and Jumna, nourishers of
life, as was the Nile to Egypt.The recurrent drama of the monsoons, the
givers of the harvest, and never failing.The vast forests with their
mystery and their teeming animal life.And towering to the north, the
majesty of mountain, the symbol of power and eternity, silent and
unapproachable. All these aspects of nature the earliest Sanscrit
poets(154)felt from the remotest days, and in a manner different from
urban Europe before Wordsworth. To the Indian poet nature was never
a foreign and hostile power, to be battled with and conquered, but part
of a vast whole in which man also has a place. So the 'return to nature'
to the devout Hindu means a mystical spiritual union very different
from any attitude Europe strove to cultivate--even Wordsworth. It is in
this spirit that the ascetic follower of Yoga empties his mind of all
thought of self and discovers peace when seated on the bank of some
river or aloft on a mountain crest in rapt contemplation of nature's

It will be a simple answer, because life in India still preserves

the simplicity of a civilization essentially rural and patriarchal--a long
tradition but a simple tradition. Cities were for courts and markets and
such cottage industry as the region desired; the vast majority of the
people dwelt, and still dwell, on the soil. The restlessness and
discomfort of a population uprooted and hiring itself out to the more
fortunate was and is yet largely unknown. Here, as in the earliest
European tradition, the meaning of human brotherhood was a very real
thing, and even today the greeting 'brother' to a stranger is expected and
understood. And the caste system, in spite of its obvious imperfections,
and the blot of untouchability, extends the practical virtues of
neighborliness to all of a caste, though they may live in different
provinces (153)and speak separate languages. So when Gandhi or
Tagore speaks of the ideal of human brotherhood, and quotes the
parable of the good Samaritan, each has behind him the sanction of a
long Indian tradition.
More, the social tradition of India is patriarchal. The kings,
even as absolute sovereigns, were the fathers of their people. This in
complete contradiction to the democratic tradition inherited by Europe

One-ness with humanity, one-ness with nature, this is the

supreme wisdom that Indian philosophy has discovered, and in this
perfect harmony man discovers peace, for this is also one-ness with
God, the spirit of the All. So Tagore, quoting the Upanishads, that
ancient textbook of philosophy that is recited in India's countless
homes, gives a description of the Rishi, the enlightened, to whom the
right way has been made manifest.

gained the title in India, and startled the West. European civilization
had seen little to set beside him since the days of Saint Francis.
With this giving up of self comes the attainment also of true
freedom. 'The bass and treble strings of our duty are only bonds as long
as we cannot maintain them steadfastly attuned according to the law of
truth; and we cannot call by the name of freedom the loosening of them
into the nothingness of inaction.' So Tagore describes it in his book of
essays, Sdhan. The loss of self in the great world of nature, in the
fact of human brotherhood, and in the motive of disinterested love with
which one undertakes every calling in life--all this is meant by union
with God, and in this alone can be discovered the joy that is freedom
and peace.

They were the rishis. What were the rishis? They who have
attained the supreme soul in knowledge were filled with wisdom, and
having found him in union with the soul were in perfect harmony with
the inner self; they having realised him in the heart were free from all
selfish desires, and having experienced him in all the activities of the
world, had attained calmness. The rishis were they who having reached
the supreme God from all sides had found abiding peace, had become
united with all, had entered into the life of the Universe.

There is an exquisite little saying ascribed to the Lord Buddha

that splendidly fills out this picture of blessedness: 'Faith is the seed,
penance the rain, understanding my yoke and plough, modesty the pole
of my plough, mind the tie, thoughtfulness my ploughshare and goad . .
. Exertion is my beast of burden carrying me without turning back to
the place, where, having gone, one does not grieve . . . So this
ploughing is ploughed; it bears the fruit of immortality.' (S.
Radhakrishnan in his Eastern Religions and Western Thought puts the
kernel of Indian philosophy in these words: 'To be inspired in
ourthoughts by divine knowledge, to be moved in our will by the divine
purpose, to mould our emotions into harmony with divine bliss, to get
at the great Self of truth, goodness, and beauty to which we give the
name of God as a spiritual presence, to raise our whole being and life to
the divine status, is the ultimate purpose and meaning of human
living.') (156)

It is in this poetic pantheism, this one-ness with God, that the

orthodox Indian imagination discovers peace and a joy. 'I bow to God
over and over again who is in fire and in water, and permeates the
whole world, who is in the annual crops as well as in the perennial
trees.' Here, in theory at least, and often in practice, the Indian poet
found that selflessness, that disinterestedness that the Gt celebrates as
the accomplishment of wisdom.(155)
As a lamp in a windless spot flickers not, such is the likeness
that is told of the strict-minded Man of the Rule who labours
upon the Rule of the Self.
Is this a gospel only of quiescence? How about the active life?
For answer the Hindu sage will say, the lamp is also active, is using and
being used, spending itself for others; so disinterestedness, lack of
desire for self, through the intensest of activity for others may attain
Nirvana. Or as Tagore himself has written, 'Our great Revealers are
they who make manifest the true meaning of the soul by giving up self
for the love of mankind.' These are the Mahatmas, the great of soul;
and those who radiate blessings. It was in this manner that Gandhi

All of Tagore's poetry and drama is an allegory of man's search

for this peace--the search of a soul in exile. For a motto he might well
have chosen a verse from the Upanishads: 'Rudra, O thou awful one,
rend this dark cover in twain and let the saving beam of thy smile of
grace strike through the night of gloom and waken my soul.' The place
of exile is Maya, illusion and its signs are the loss of one's true self
through fault of will, or through desire for the imperfect and particular,

the forgetting of the universal source of man and nature and

remembering only of the untrue self or of some single object of
affection. Such partial living is the night of gloom, which can be
pierced only by the supernal lightning of truth, Satyam, whose symbol
is Rudra, the God of fire. When this final truth is once discovered with
its joy in activity, its motive of selfless love, and its perception of
eternal Beauty, of which every beautiful object is a symbol, then man
participates in the eternal activity of nature itself, as each note blends
into and gains its significance from the movement of the symphony,
and time and separateness cease: Nirvana. In the midst of such activity
alone 'wilt thou desire to live a hundred years.'

one who would find his way from the maze of error and illusion to the
pathway of true living. Hence his dramas in particular are a sequence,
each an exquisite Pilgrim's Progress or a Paradise Regained, a moral
fable, reminding us of the myths in Plato. He writes them, as did Plato,
that the boys in his school or readers the world over, whose
imaginations are yet plastic, may be touched into living awareness of
their deeper meaning. They are rich with the imagery and poetic
ornament of India, luxuriant perhaps at times for the Western
imagination trained in a more austere poetry. But luxuriance of
imagination is a long tradition in India, a heritage from the sixthcentury dramatist Kalidasa, and before him from the earliest epics.

Tagore early dedicated himself to a life of poetry and art for

India. He addresses the spirit of his country:

In using again the old poetic material of ancient epic and drama
Tagore does a thing not unlike the poetic dramatists of classical Greece.
Many of his plots are incidents taken from the ancient Indian
mythology--a practice again that was current during the flourishing of
the ancient Sanscrit drama. He takes hints and incidents from the long
epic narratives of the Mahabharata or Ramayana, or inventions
patterned on an ancient model. Thus the stories are close to
the(158)lives of all Indians, adult or children, and rich in romantic
interest and power. As we read Tagore we are a long way from the
realistic tradition of our West.

I will keep fresh the grassy paths where you walk in the
morning, where your feet will be greeted with praise at every
step by the flowers eager for death. I will swing you in a swing
among the branches of the sapta parna, where the early evening
moon will struggle to kiss your skirt through the leaves. I will
replenish with scented oil the lamp that burns by your bedside,
and decorate your footstool with sandal and saffron paste in
wondrous design.(157)

It is easy to illustrate his method. In his best-known plays the

theme is the eternal human paradox: the world of truth and the false
allurements of the world of illusion, and the instinctive call of the soul
for its true home. And yet also the value of illusion and of transient
beauty to beget the desire for truth. Such is the moral of the exquisite
poetic drama, Chitra. The hero is Arjuna, the perplexed mortal of the
Bhagavat-Gt and hero of the epic Mahabharata. The heroine is
Chitra, a princess, daughter of a king, but trained in arms and martial
exercise, for the king has no son. She is the defender of her father's
kingdom and a warrior without reproach, a fit rival even of Arjuna. But
now with the object of his military prowess accomplished and the
kingdom restored to his brothers and himself, Arjuna has retired to the
forest to discover peace, and there he is living in austere denial of all
earthly joy. Chitra comes upon him while he is lying asleep in the

But Tagore is not a lonely singer, calling India the Queen back
to the ancient beauty of her garden. There are many gardeners in this
garden, for India is and has been of recent years experiencing a
renaissance of her traditional heritage of art and poetry. Only Tagore is
unique in that he is perfectly bilingual and his words, whether they are
uttered first in his native Bengali and translated by him into English, or
first in English and then translated for his own people, carry always the
same convincingness.
Always with him, as with the tradition of India, the plot of the
drama, story, or poem is an allegory. As every beautiful object is a
symbol of a higher Truth and Beauty, so every incident in life or in the
poet's imagination is an allegorical symbol, rich with significance to

The Indian philosophy of life with its creed of Maya, that all
things as they appear in their separateness are illusory and of no value,
that desire for these things is evil, and that the state of peace can be
attained only with the extinction of all desire, this nihilism of the
objective world and the search for that supersensible state of mind
when even the sense of individual existence is lost through austere
contemplation of the infinite, the state symbolized by the immobile
statue of a rapt Buddha, all this has had and still has its devotees. But
with its attainment the practical life comes to an end, and with life
poetry. Tagore has written a drama(160)with an interesting comment
on this ideal of absolute ascetic denial. Such attainment may be
blessed, but there is a greater blessedness in mingling in the illusory
dance of life, if it be done with full understanding and selfless love.

forest, instantly recognizes his greatness, and falls deeply in love.

Forgetting all maidenly reserve, she decks herself out in all her
feminine ornaments and pays him court. She is quickly repulsed.
In an agony of desire she turns to Madana, the god of love, and
Vasanta, the god of immortal youth, to grant her immortal beauty for a
single day, that with its allure she may win the ascetic prince. Her plea
is granted, and for a year. She has her wish, the hero becomes all hers.
But with her ecstasy there is the growing pain of deceit. It is not she,
Chitra, the princess and woman with whom the knight has fallen in
love, but an illusion, a wraith, the fleeting creation of two complaisant
gods. Such love is not truth but also an illusion. So her joy brings no
eternal satisfaction, but only a greater thirst. The forest of their union
and its flower-decked bower is only 'a slumbrous prison of green
gloom,' 'a dense(159)cover of perfumed intoxication,' from which they
can only emerge by the hard pathway of truth.

It is the drama of Sanyasi, or the Ascetic. Sanyasi is the Hindi

and Bengali word for the devotee who gives up life for the practice of
religious austerities for the sake of freedom. The hero of this drama has
obtained deliverance, for him the world of time and sense has ceased to
exist. 'The division of days and nights is not for me, nor that of months
and years . . . I am free, I am the great solitary One . . . Now, when I am
free of fear and desires, when the mist has vanished, and my reason
shines pure and bright, let me go out into the kingdom of lies, and sit
upon its heart, untouched and unmoved.' So like many a sanyasi of
today he seats himself by the highway of life to watch with profound
detachment its unmeaning panorama.

He is a man and knight and must return from this intoxication of

love to the stern realities of a knight's responsibilities. She must shed
the borrowed beauty and return to the responsibilities of her palace and
station. Will they be strong enough for the renunciation of illusion and
the acceptance of truth? But at the same time the borrowed illusion of
beauty had its place in the awakening of hero and heroine. Though it
was an illusion it was the means for the revelation of something that
neither hero nor heroine had guessed, the meaning of mutual and yet
selfless love. Though it was a false outward semblance, it was a guide
to a large spiritual truth; and when its purpose was attained, it could be
discarded. Even Maya can be a minister to truth. 'Mistress mine, do not
hope to pacify love with airy nothings. Give me something to clasp,
something that can last longer than pleasure, that can endure even
through suffering.' (Nearly all romantic Indian literature, from the time
of the epics, has been concerned with the discipline of love to
selflessness. One is reminded of Plato definitions in The Symposium.)
'Illusion is the first appearance of Truth . . . I grope for that bare
simplicity of truth.' Can man endure it? In this drama both man and
woman were content.

How small is this earth and confined, watched and followed by

the persistent horizons! The trees, houses, and crowd of things
are pressing upon my eyes. The light, like a cage, has shut out
the dark eternity; and the hours hop and cry within its barriers,
like prisoned birds. But why are these noisy men rushing on,
and for what purpose? They seem always afraid of missing
something,--something that never comes to their hands.
Life goes by, its endless procession, village elders and women,
students, flower girls, wayfarers, beggars, soldiers, each engaged upon
his trifle, and all vanity. Then comes the little girl Vasanti, and with her

an emotion that has come from a sincere and suffering heart. For
Vasanti is an Untouchable, her father is dead, and nowhere can she find
kindness or protection. She clings to the saint for protection. He is
unafraid of the pollution of untouchability, for he 'has washed away the
world from his mind.' But also he will not allow himself to be
entangled by her charm or softened by her pity.(161)

let it take me up again, let me join once more the pilgrims. Oh,
the fool, who wanted to seek safety in swimming alone, and
gave up the light of the sun and stars, to pick his way with his
glow- worm's lamp!
'The finite is the true infinite, and love knows its truth.' And he
returns to the village to seek his lost world. She is dead, he learns. But
no, that cannot be true, for her death will be the death of all. 'She can
never be dead.' For she is the motive that eternally brings love and
beauty, and transforms the finite into the infinite.Renunciation of self,
for the sanyasiyasi, (162) yes, but the discovery in compensation of a
rich universe of responsive joy and beauty.(It is interesting to note that
Tagore wrote this play, with an Untouchable bringing the true meaning
of life to a holy devotee, just at the time when Gandhi began his attack
against the curse of untouchability.)

Sanyasi. Don't you know this world is a bottomless chasm? The

swarm of creatures, coming out from the hole of nothingness,
seeks for shelter, and enters into the gaping mouth of this
emptiness, and is lost. These are the ghosts of lies around you,
who hold their market of illusions,--and the foods which they
sell are shadows. They only deceive your hunger, but do not
satisfy. Come away from here, child, come away.
Vasanti. But, father, they seem so happy in this world. Can we
not watch them from the roadside?

It is significant that Tagore has in this drama found the motive

for the discovery of love and beauty in the innocent forlornness of the
daughter of an Untouchable. This is the station in life that all India
from the earliest days abhors. To be sure the Bhagavat-Gt tells us that
'the learned look with indifference alike upon a wise and courteous
Brahman [the highest caste and object of universal reverence], a cow
[the symbol of deity and sacred], an elephant [the symbol of
intelligence and benevolence], a dog, or an outcast man.' Yet these
words have carried little merit in social practice. In this play, all of the
villagers ignore or repulse her. But her very need for love creates it in
the arid heart of the sanyasi, who had reached the state of indifference
praised by the Gt. The parable here with its double edge deserves to
be placed beside the parable of the 'neighbor' in the New Testament.

Sanyasi. Alas, they do not understand. They cannot see that this
world is death spread out to eternity.--It dies every moment, yet
never comes to the end.--And we, the creatures of this world,
live by feeding upon death . . . Weep not, child, come to me.
You seem to me like a cry of a lost world, like the song of a
wandering star. You bring to my mind something which is
infinitely more than this Nature,--more than the sun and stars. It
is as great as the darkness. I understand it not. I have never
known it, therefore I fear it. I must leave you.--Go back whence
you came,--the messenger of the unknown.
But the little girl, though he has lost her by his devotion to truth,
as he fancied it, has transformed the very pattern of his universe. No
longer is nature drab, its panorama of life meaningless. Love for nature
and love for his fellow man has blossomed in the heart that he once felt
he had purged of human emotion.

Perhaps the most significant of Tagore's plays, and the longest,

is The King of the Dark Chamber--and also the one most rich in
allegorical meaning. At the same time, as in the Sanyasi, there are the
little realistic touches of Indian life-- villages, streets, palaces, with
their native savor. Here the scene is chiefly royal, the court of a
mysterious rajah, in some mysterious city blessed by his orderly rule.
But none of his subjects, none of the court attendants, none of the

Let my vows of Sanyasi go. I break my staff and my alms-bowl.

This stately ship, this world, which is crossing the sea of time,-72

visitors that come to admire, not even his wife the queen, no one has
ever beheld him. And yet his state is kingly; his potency is felt by all.
There is order and unquestioning obedience. Never was there such a
city--straight streets and perfect civic life, and perfect justice. It is a
perfect contrast to an ordinary city and its king, as one is described by a

The slander cannot touch the King. With a mere breath you can
blow out the flame which a lamp inherits from the sun, but if all
the World blow upon the sun itself its effulgence remains
undimmed and unimpaired as before.
Then there are the many whose faith, or better whose practice,
is sheer ignorance. They are the multitude in its blindness(164)that
obey any authority, unquestioning, and easily imposed upon and

Our king does not believe in open thoroughfares; he thinks that

streets are just so many openings for his subjects to fly away
from his kingdom. It is quite the contrary here, nobody stands in
your way, nobody objects to your going elsewhere if you like
to; and yet the people are far from deserting the kingdom. With
such streets our country would certainly have been depopulated
in no time.

My faith is, to go on obeying the King--it does not matter

whether he is a real one or a pretender. What do we know of
kings that we should judge them! It is like throwing stones in
the dark--you are almost sure of missing your mark. I go on
obeying and acknowledging--if it is a real king--well and good;
if not, what harm is there?

Its inhabitants enjoy a freedom of action and of thought

quite different from the forced orthodoxy of other cities. And a
band of visiting strangers on a pilgrimage to wonder and admire
are filled with astonishment.

Of such is the kingdom of this life composed, where the unseen

King reigns.

After all, one cannot help wishing that the King had
allowed himself to be seen at least this one day. What a great
pity, to live in his Kingdom and yet not to have seen him for a
single day!

But the queen, who would know the King more intimately, who
would be ever in his presence, and share his life, how will she bear the
invisible presence? She thus becomes the allegory of the searching soul
whose life would be a constant devotion, and who cannot be satisfied
with only unquestioning faith. Only in the Dark Chamber of the heart
does the King visit her, but she longs for open possession. Her love
must have something more substantial than the dark revelation. And
she is impatient at the incompleteness of a love of whose substance so
much is shrouded.

Order, peace, intelligent freedom, and security. But who is their

author? Where does he sequester himself? Can he ever be seen? How
may one discover the path to his audience? Some visitors are
incredulous, some only idly curious, some willing to deny. 'Where
would be the necessity of having a king if order and harmony exist
already?' Is not the King here most appropriately the allegory of this
our universe with its attainment of order and its striving for security?
Where order is attained, is there any necessity of its Maintainer? Is not
the movement of the spheres automatic and axiomatic? Against these
doubters is the innocent wisdom of the naive grandfather, old in years
and joyous in faith. Though he has never beheld with his eyes, his faith
never longs for the evidence of the senses.

No, no--I cannot live without light--I am restless in this stifling

dark . . . How can there be any union at all between us, in a
place like this? No, no--it is impossible: there is a barrier
betwixt us two: not here, no, not in this place. I want to find you
and see you where I see trees and animals, birds and stones and
the earth.

How can she wholeheartedly give herself to what after all may
be only an illusion? And then she is asked the question of questions,
could she recognize him if she saw him? Could her love and devotion
be duped by an impostor?

But this adequate joy is discovered in the annihilation of the

idea of separateness, for this is born of illusion, of Maya. It is the evil
that prompted the queen's questioning. And for one in whom faith is
finally established there will be no Dark Chamber and its King a hidden
mystery. Such is India's answer to the problem of evil in the world, in
institutions, and in the heart of man. For centuries now India in its own
manner has given a metaphysical and an ethical interpretation to the
words of the New Testament: 'Lay not up treasures where moth and
rust doth corrupt.' Seek first(166)the kingdom of God, 'He that loseth
himself shall find himself.' It is individual desire, desire that springs
from the idea of the unique significance of the individual, selfishness in
any of its aspects, even the motive of self-preservation, that is evil. For
this makes for dualism, for a paradox, a contradiction between the All
and the Many. The many, be they never so clamorous, never so
speciously alluring, in essence are of no more real consequence than a
dream. They are Maya, the dream of the eternal World Spirit, and
wisdom comes only when they are known to be of no more abiding

The impostor comes, the pseudo-king, a usurper, in appearance

right royal, and his progress through the city draws men's eyes and their
loyalty. All are imposed upon, even the queen. Now follows a scene
showing the growing anarchy and confusion, until the little kingdom is
overwhelmed and the queen in shame at her credulity takes refuge in
exile,(165)fleeing the burning palace and the clutches of four visitor
kings that would plunder the kingdom, Greed, Ambition, Folly, Force.
In shame and remorse and anger the queen makes her way to her old
home, to begin again the quest of her King and husband. How can she
make herself worthy? For she finds her old home is no home and she is
unwelcome. Will her bridegroom again come to her; or will she
become the prey of the four ambitious vices?
The rest of the play is the story of her restoration. Nightly she
hears the music of an unseen lute at her window, conscience speaking
its music of promise. There is a great battle, the impieties are
overwhelmed, and in humility, with the grandfather, whose naive
wisdom was the best, for guide, she sets forth on her return. There must
be adequate preparation for the meeting--the true Yoga. For the renewal
of the bond between the soul and its King is no exercise of austere
mortification, instead it is a 'jolly pilgrimage,' and the signs of joy must

But the tradition of Indian literature has never, as has Indian

metaphysics, encouraged renunciation through the complete Yoga of
the ascetic. Such perfect attainment is only for the favored few, the
contemplative saints who can watch unmoved the irrelevant pattern of
the panorama of this dream. Such cold aloofness and perfect
insensibility may be attainable and even desirable, for it is the perfect
escape from the evil. To such, as the sanyasi, there is no difference
between the highest and the lowest, for both are as nothing. Sub specie
aeternitatis, where infinity engulfs all, all ranks and distances are equal
and zero. But this is only to avoid the evil by denial and erasure. In
such transcendental regions there can be no ethics, because all acts are
of equal value-- all are zero. And the meaning of the pattern of life, and
the passion of its acceptance and its manner, the very motive and
substance of poetry and literature, like all other differences, become
likewise zero. Poetry and literature can find no breath in this perfect

When I shall find him, the first words that I shall tell him will
be, 'I have not awaited your coming.' I shall say, 'For your sake
have I trodden the hard and weary roads, and bitter and
ceaseless have been my weeping all the way.' I shall at least
have this pride in me when I meet him.
Or to quote again from the Upanishads: 'From joy does spring
all this creation, by joy is it maintained, towards joy does it progress,
and into joy does it enter.'

So this answer, of all answers the perfect, to the problem of

conduct and evil, must be rejected, in part, and some compromise come
to with the substance of Maya. The answer is in the last quest of the
queen, the quest too of the sanyasi, for something beyond the self to
which one may devote one's whole endeavor in the service of active
love. Metaphysically, love, like any other motive, may be of the
essence of Maya;(167)but it is the motive in the Creator that prompted
the act of the dream creation. The same motive animates, or should
animate, all the actors in the dream; and then and then only will the
dream have beauty. Here is a Nirvana, that while intellectually it knows
that all is an illusion, ethically it would make of the world a terrestrial
paradise of active peace and freedom.

courage. Fearless affection restores the lunatic to sanity, transforms the

hostile savage into a friend, tames the wild animal. The mental patterns
of love can be transferred from one mind to another and still retain its
virtue--. Evil is the accentuation of division; good, whatever makes for
unity with other lives and other beings.'
FREEDOM, an aim in life that shall be all absorbing; an escape from
the mechanics of science and economics, from machinery, from
uniformity and standardization, from comfort that is an anodyne for
thought; the right to personality; all this that from the beginning has
been the theme of the best in the essays and novels of Aldous Huxley is
nothing new. It is his brave battle against the meaninglessness of
mechanically designed order that would make a Pullman car or a Ford
tractor of life, that would substitute institutions for living, and thereby
smother freedom. But it is not a new battle in a newly chosen field. It is
new only in that he has called many of the forces at work today by new
and more descriptive names; and has thrown into the conflict a novel
ardor. Above all his struggle deserves sympathy, for he perhaps is
better qualified by temperament and inheritance to understand its full
significance. Nor should we be disappointed that his solution is not
new. Too(169)much novelty in as old a thing as human nature is
always suspect. Nor need we accept his solution unqualifiedly, for one
gains in understanding by a question well stated even when one rejects
the answer. Yet it is not too much to say, even now before his work, we
hope, is half completed, that Aldous Huxley is one of the most
significant critics of contemporary life and ideas in Europe, and also
one of the best qualified.

The emancipation of our physical nature is in attaining health,

of our social being in attaining goodness, of our self in attaining
Is this answer too naive, too simple, for the complex civilization
of today? In accepting it, is mankind also making the great
renunciation? Is it the answer only of the mystic few? Be the answers
to these questions what they may, there are many in the West who are
seeking for the vision.(168)
'He ate civilization and it killed him . . . God manifests himself as an
absence, for he isn't compatible with Machinery.'

Eugene O'Neill, distressed by the emptiness of contemporary

life, once fled to the old safe arms of the church. Fled as instinctively as
the child, frightened by its bold essay at the empty dark, to the arms of
its mother. It is the old, inherited, unreasoning instinct to turn to a
natural protector. Was there not much of the same biological instinct to
survive in O'Neill's tears and his return to the church of his fathers? In
the same manner Faust, in despair at the emptiness of his life, was

'I don't want comfort, I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I
want freedom, I want sin.'
'And minds--minds also are unique, but unique above a substratum of
mental identity. Identity and interchangeableness of love, trust,

rescued by the hymn of Easter and the voice of childish faith--rescued,

but only for the passing moment. The emotional purge of the traditional
liturgies of a faith that the intellect has undermined may be potent, like
a shot in the arm, but when its influence passes will not the patient
require larger and more frequent ministrations? And always the act
implies the denial of at least half of human nature, the approval of the
reason. Huxley, the grandson of the scientist who as much as any other
won for the English-speaking world the battle for science in the nineteenth century, and the half-brother of one of the leading biologists
today, will not, like the apostle of old, deny his master. The solution, if
there is to be a solution, must satisfy both the claims of the reason and
the heart. Neither of these primary human instruments can allow itself
to be ignored.

triumphal progress in all of the sciences; is the vision that came to the
old Goethe again possible?
Not long ago there was translated into English a novel by Karl
Capek, War with the Newts. It is the story of a new order of amphibians
discovered in some southern ocean, that because of their tractable
human intelligence and indefatigable industry, were transported to all
regions where cheap and uncomplaining industry was needed to
supplement the human reluctance to do manual labor. As they were
taught, these half-water, half-earth creatures discovered more and more
human characteristics, first of a kind that possessed the largest
economic and biological survival value. They bred without romance,
they worked unquestioningly, they acquired technical ingenuity and
even technical inventiveness, but always such as was directed to the
main issue, survival. They were utterly without emotion--perfect
biological (171)machines, like the ants. In the end they grew to be so
superior to man, with his aptitudes for art and leisure, that it became a
tragic question whether man, who is never perfectly efficient, who
never finds perfect happiness in co- operative work, who is always
emotionally unstable and touched with the vertigo of an imagination--it
became a tragic question whether this inefficient humanity could
survive the deluge of the newts.

Science, the instrument of reason, has had and is having its

exclusive day. We shall not put science in its place by turning our
backs on it and indulging in an orgy of exalting the heart and its
emotions. It is only too easy to raise one's(170) hands in horror, like
Rousseau, at the unhappiness that has been achieved in the name of
science--to raise one's hands in horror and flee to some sanctuary of the
soul. It is much more difficult--and again I would call in Goethe--to
reconstruct a life, after the tragedies of the heart, in the serene harmony
of heart and intellect. But science in its career of conquest has gone a
long way, since its elementary prattle at the beginning of the nineteenth
century. The man who will understand its significance for life today,
and its dangers, must know intimately things at which it was never
given Goethe even to guess.

The satire in this novel is plain and perhaps overdrawn. But is

not technical and technological science tending in more places than one
to transform human nature into efficient and perfectly standardized and
perfectly 'happy,' that is unquestioningly complacent, newts? If science
is given perfect control, in the institutions of society and the state, and
people can be psychologically and biologically conditioned for their
sphere in life, cannot the perfect society be achieved and also the
tragedy of human nature? There are more than a few qualified
imaginations in Europe and America today who are not happy over the
triumph of science. One of the chiefest of these is the yet young Aldous
Huxley. Science may be tragically emptying human life of the essence
that has been man's glory, uniqueness and freedom, and giving in their
place identity and order.

That science could never unlock the door of ultimate truth--this

was 'the rub' that caused Faust to reach for poison.
And here I stand, with all my lore,
Poor fool, no wiser than before.
But science also could and did for Faust in Part II discover a
way of life that leads to salvation. It could build a new tradition and
bring happiness to mankind. There have since then been ten decades of

The science of biology itself gives the question an interesting

and illuminating comment. In the long story of the extinction of some
species and the survival of others, it is always the species that are most
splendidly specialized, the professionals as it were, that have been
exterminated when conditions to which they were perfectly adapted
have suddenly changed. Such is the story of the sudden disappearance
of all the great and little saurians. They were magnificent triumphs in
their day of adaptation to their environment. But they were quite
unfitted to any other, and when the environment for one reason or
another changed, they could not follow. But the amateurs who never
allowed themselves the luxury of perfect adaptation, who were aways
partial misfits, (172)amateurishly and inefficiently playing the game of
life, with success and failure always uncertain, and with the sense of
discomfort always giving scope to the imagination of an embryo poet-to these any change, sudden or gradual, in the environment was but one
more added to the already well-known obstacles in the uncertain game
of life. They played the game, and we their yet amateur descendants
study the rock fossils of the once successful professionals. Is
contemporary science, engaged successfully upon the ordering and
perfecting of the practical business of life, liable so to standardize it
and fit it to the environment as to endanger man's amateur standing,
and thus disqualify him ultimately in the game of life? It is an
interesting question, whether or not science in its exceeding care to
reduce human life, as it does with all nature, to a formula, has not
forgotten some essential aspects of life that are beyond and above any
scope of science.

interested in what he observes, as is the scientist, that he may

understand. 'My thinking is predominantly extraverted; but I have a
great dislike of practical activity. I am interested in the outside world,
but only intellectually.' True, one can hardly fancy him in a band of
martyrs, but there is still a deal of deep feeling in his intellectual
observation. Then he has the rare(173)gift of pointed satire, and satire
without the indignation to prompt it is less than a blank cartridge. 'Fecit
indignatio versus,' and indignation is a moral virtue.
But above all he knows science and the aim of true scientists.
The grandson of Thomas Henry Huxley, he belongs to a family famous
in its devotion to science. More than any other, he knows the difference
between the true scientist who is concerned only with pure and humble
intellectual understanding, and those who with inordinate pride would
extend its boundaries. When in his Ends and Means he writes, 'We are
living now, not in the delicious intoxication induced by the early
success of science, but in a rather grisly morning after, when it has
become apparent that what triumphant science has done hitherto is to
improve the means for achieving unimportant or actually deteriorated
ends,' he is thinking not of Newton or Einstein, but of the appliers of
scientific discovery to human comfort and leisure. He can afford to be
the critic of science when he understands that true scientists differ by a
horizon from those, like the political scientists and economists, who try
to translate its findings into objects of comfort and into social and
political systems. It is these blunderers who cause him again to write
bitterly: 'The scientific picture of the world is what it is because men of
science combine this incompetence with certain special competence.'
Blunderers and incompetent because they overlook the portion of
human life that is the domain of art and ethics.

Aldous Huxley is well equipped to raise and perhaps to answer

this question. He has the sensitiveness and imagination of the artist
whose domain is not the commonplace but the unique. For, as he
himself once said in criticism of the proletarian literature, 'Life's so
ordinary that literature has to deal with the exceptional--Drama begins
where there's freedom of choice. Even proletarian books will deal with
exceptional proletarians.' There is more than a grain of truth in the
generalization, hotly though some may debate it. He is a close observer
of the life about him--this anyone can discover from even the most
cursory reading of his essays and novels. He is an intellectualist

The essays and novels, which are Huxley's most significant

work, are a timely criticism of precisely this oversight of the
contemporary mind. He is a creative artist, but like Swift it is his
critical insight into the sins of the age--sins against human nature--that
prompts his art and gives it substance. He is thinker and observer first,
and his fiction a means of enforcing his moral. Perhaps of all
contemporary creative writers he most resembles the prophet of old

who to enforce his teaching turned to well-known parables and tales. In

this he(174)again resembles the honest, intrepid battler, his grandfather,
who in his day also was a prophet with a mission. Thomas Henry
Huxley wrote and lectured, when he might have devoted himself to
research in biology, that he might set the world right about the nature
and need of science. His mission was successful, and the domain of
science was expanded until now it threatens to become absolute. The
grandson, in his turn, neglecting pure art, turns to prophecy and satire
that again he may set the world right about science and rescue from its
misuse the forgotten domain of human nature.

for vitality and spontaneous growth. But the aimlessness and emptiness
of contemporary life is a theme that many have essayed and more have
felt; (175)for with the advance in the comfort and luxuries of life has
come a brilliance of color and a swiftness of movement and an
abandonment to sensuous caprice that was impossible in the days
before science gave us comfortable houses and the means of rapid
locomotion and the leisure for sensuous living. All this can easily be
mistaken for a richer living, as the colors of autumn might be read as a
debauch of life instead of the omen of death. All this many novelists
and essayists have pointed out, until it takes no great imagination to
repeat the foreboding. Brave New World on the contrary is a prophecy
on a new, or at least a different theme: the seeds of death are already
planted for us in the triumphs of science. When science turns its eyes to
the conquest of the whole of the human world--and this conquest
already is almost achieved--it will be a conquest which will mean also
the death of science.

Nowhere has he done this more potently than in the satire Brave
New World, which is the Gulliver's Travels of the twentieth
century.Please, reader, do not get the impression from this that I am
ascribing to Aldous Huxley a significance for all time equal to that of
Lemuel Gulliver. There is a universality to the satire of Swift that
makes the story of the Lilliputians and the Brobdingnagians a service to
every age. Lilliput is still in the here and now as it was in the days of
Queen Anne, a universal satire on human pigmies that fancy their
world to be the pride of the cosmos. Huxley's satire is only of the here
and now and the special incompetence of this age of Hitlers and other
contrivers who see Paradise as the accomplishment of every scientific
New Deal.

Brave New World is a satire, again as Thomas More's Utopia is

a satire, in the form of a novel, a description of our lives as they will be
in the none too distant future, if the present obsessions persist for
standardization according to the sciences--eugenics and psychology, as
well as economics and mechanics. Thus, though it purports to be a look
into the future, it is much more an assessment of the present. For
example, the little song in which the scientifically processed inhabitants
of the world find a substitute for the emotion of art:

To be sure it is exaggerated, so is Gulliver. To be sure it

overlooks much, so does Gulliver, and above all it is cynical, at times
bitterly brutal and offensive, and so also is Gulliver. There can be no
omelet without the breaking of eggs. But the breaking of painted eggs
is the motive of satire. It is not meant to amuse or entertain, but to
shock. The Brave New World is shocking and is meant to be, as
Jeremiah was shocking when he described the finery and the emptiness
of the daughters of Zion.

Hug me till you drug me, honey;

Kiss me till I'm in a coma:
Hug me, honey, snugly bunny,
Love's as good as soma.
Any night on the radio, or from the dance orchestra, drug like
this is poured out by crooners. It is not a caricature of the theme song-it is Hollywood. And people like it.

In his earliest novels, as in Chrome Yellow, he had visibly

portrayed the autumnal shade of contemporary life, life from which, as
from autumn foliage, all vigor has departed, melancholy and
monotonous and ready for death. It has its false gaiety and its substitute

It is the emotional substitute for art, as 'soma' in the Brave New World
is the artificial substitute for the exhilaration (176)of experience. Soma

is cheaper, for it comes in medicinal pellets, and it is safer, for it leaves

no aftereffects of misadventure or danger. Again we think of substitutes
that the safety of modern life offers for the thrill of real danger. Then,
that there be nothing lacking in the way of emotional outlet in this
brave new world, with perfect safety for all, there are the 'Feelies.' The
movies today have one thing lacking, the response of the audience to
their emotional thrill is not quite perfect. It requires some imaginative
labor to respond to the emotions of the hero and the heroine. So the
New World invented the 'Feelies' where the full play of all emotions is
remotely distilled into the nerves of each member of the audience,
merely by his putting his arms on the chairs in the theatre. But is not
that day of the brave new world not much more than just around the
corner, if Hollywood and the technicians have their way?

This is a dawn that can be made to last forever. But no poet's

imagination can ever give it hail or sing its praise, for there will be no
Yes, people are here conditioned for the role they are to play in
life before they are born, no, before they are decanted, for they are
conceived in a test tube and decanted from a flask in which are all the
ingredients, the hormones and fluids, that will make them what they are
to be. Strict census is kept of all classes of society and babies are
planned ahead, like crops, to meet a foreseen shortage. There is the
'alpha' class, the administrators-in-chief and the intellectuals, the 'betas'
below them, though yet a class of dignity. Below are the varied lower
ranks, the 'gammas,' the 'deltas,' and last and lowest the 'epsilons.' Each
class is exactly designed for its position and function; there are no
errors or misfits. An 'epsilon' can no more dream of being an 'alpha'
than a mosquito can compose elegies on the unhappy fate which kept
him from being an elephant. So much virtue is there in science.
'Abandon all hope ye that enter.' This motto with its ominous warning
might equally be inscribed above the arch of this scientific paradise.
And it carries a more sinister warning than Dante's, for Dante's damned
had had at least one chance in life where hope might have been of
avail. In this paradise of the physiological-psychological-biologist, the
faculty of hope is not abandoned; it has been atrophied even before it is

'Soma' and 'Feelies' compensate for the instinctive striving for

unique self-expression. They are spillways, safe and practicable, for the
personal dissatisfaction with his environment that each individual will
some time feel, the craving for God, for danger, for excellence, even
for sin when sin is unique and personal. But already with these
fortunate inhabitants of the brave new world, dissatisfaction and sin
were impossible. This new deal began after a great world war that had
for the last time made disorder prevail, and discomfort. So the director
of the new world, the super-dictator, declared things must be altered
once and for all, and human nature changed. All the old incitements to
extravagance and uniqueness and personal freedom were abolished by
the psychologist, biologist, and efficiency engineer. The age of Ford
was made to prevail.

Nor is this quite so fantastic a forecast of what may be as one

might imagine. The reign of the biologist-psychologist is already upon
us, and none of even its more extravagant pictures is very far around
the corner. Modern science has already available many of the
techniques, and the others are predictable. I recall an article in a wellknown magazine on the next century in science, by Julian Huxley, the
author's (178)half-brother. It is not a mere coincidence that what the
biologist predicts the writer of fiction makes into the plot of his satirical
novel. For science can, if it is given the rule, reduce life to its greatest
comfort and maximum efficiency. If our two gods are to be the
efficiency engineer and the expert in eugenics and the ductless glands,
here is a picture of the universe into which we can expect to be

You can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's

stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never
want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill;
they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old
age; they're plagued with no(177)mothers or fathers; they've got no
wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so
conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to


translated. And reference is obvious to experiments in standardization

that are being talked about and even made in various parts of the world,
and efforts to promote happiness through technology.

moral. He is discovered for what he is, a mongrel in breeding, an

aristocrat in blood; and he is brought to the light, for his responses are
unexpected and illuminating. He becomes the latest novelty. But in his
native haunts he has discovered and learned to read Shakespeare--a
highly objectionable and forbidden book. It is his reactions, unblessed
and unconditioned, that are the theme of the novel. Poetry he has, rude
and untrained, and love of the unattainable. He supplies the gloss and
detailed commentary to the unexpressed dissatisfaction of the hero. He
is the Nihilist, as great art and poetry is always the nihilist to
complacency and comfort.

Is the job worth the while? Is there something supremely

precious that evaporates in the laboratory of the decanter and the shop
of the mechanical contriver? Is this 'civilization wrapped in cellophane,'
and made safe for everyone's taking, worth the sacrifice? The answer to
this question is the theme of the philosophical satire. What is lost when
comfort is valued above experience, stability above experiment, and
happiness above art? When people are 'immune from life,' is life worth
living? Is the expense of biological and psychological insurance against
failure too great for humanity to pay? Can humanity pay too much even
for perfect safety and cellophane?

'I don't want comfort, I want God, I want poetry. I want real
danger, I want freedom, I want sin.' 'He ate civilization and it killed
him.' Is modern civilization more and more becoming a poison to the
best in human nature? In sensitive souls all over Europe, as in Huxley,
there is the active fear that science can displace or destroy poetry.

Huxley answers these questions in the course of the novel in the

experiences of an unsuccessfully decanted hero, 'who had too much
alcohol in his blood-surrogate,' and of a savage who had been
preserved in a reservation for the unblessed and who had never been
exposed to the regimen of science. Here are two interesting people. The
first is a young man who should be a perfect 'alpha,' qualified for the
conditioning of others, and whose life of work for which he is geared,
and the emotional outlets of sex, 'soma' and 'feelies,' should leave
nothing in life to be desired. But there is gnawing at his imagination a
need for an unexpressed something, a dissatisfaction with perfection
and desire for desire. 'God manifests himself as an absence, for he isn't
compatible with(179)machinery.' Nor is art. 'You're making flivvers out
of the absolute minimum of steel--your works of art are practically
nothing but pure sensations.' It was this absence that troubled him, this
something that could not be stilled by the tickle of sensation and safe
sensuality. It was a world without Romance.

Poetry is one way out of inescapable situations. These are the

causes of passion, passion that can express itself and find its discharge
in the laughter of comedy or tears of tragedy. But once bring perfect
comfort, perfect standardization and stability--and this can be done
through science--and the very source of passion is dried up, the fear of
failure gives place(180)to the fatness of complacency, and life becomes
a mere routine as automatic as the composite life of the beehive or ant
hill, where all individual initiative has been lost. The Brave New World
is not a fantastic Utopian jeu d'esprit.
Is there a way out? Can the moral hardening of the arteries of
today be arrested and the human health of the individual restored? Can
we get rid of our obsession of the clinic, the laboratory, the machine, as
the sole means of human welfare, and turn again, with a method not
born in the laboratory, to the age-old problem of human regeneration?
Here we have the Huxley of his latest utterances. And here also we
have the burden of the prophecies of the prophets of old and the
mission of the saints and of those who had visions and dreams. We are
in the region of the mystic. Mysticism and science--these two, since
Bacon defined the new science and its ideal of impersonal objectivity

The savage was never more than a savage, but he had been born
of the illegitimate union of a stray 'beta' and an 'alpha' official. These
savages were people of the old regime, living not according to science
but to nature, kept behind fences lest they contaminate the blessed, and
yet not exterminated because their blind state could serve as a perpetual

and its method of mathematical measurement, have seemed to be at

hopeless odds. Will an answer to the question of human behavior,
which is based upon a thing so intangible as a poet's dream, have any
standing in the world whose foundations seem so obstinately scientific?
If not, then so much the worse for the world. So argue these new

novel, as in the allegory, the Interpreter, the commenting author, in the

person of his chief character, in little moral essays and excursions into
criticism, to give us the drift of the progress.
It goes without saying that it is a pilgrim's progress of utmost
significance, for the author is the hero, as in Dante, of his own vision.
Only his name is changed, and a trifle in his background. It is Huxley's
own effort to discover a motive for life that will save passion, art,
internal initiative, in a word--freedom. And for this reason he selects as
his hero a person who like himself had to begin with an intellectualist
aversion for action--one to whom it was somewhat of a left-hand
undertaking 'to become aware of one's interests as a human being, and
to act on that awareness.' To convert such a person, to fuse all of his
human faculties into one(182)organic unit, the biological, the
intellectual, the aesthetic, and the social, and to inspire such a one with
a motive for action, such is the plot of the story. To begin with, the hero
is a scientist, a sociologist interested solely in the external facts and
generalizations of his science, and busy on a treatise that will give
complete intellectual satisfaction. He studies and associates with
human beings purely impersonally; he will not allow himself the
disturbing luxury of passion, even his dealings with sex are as
dispassionate as the relief of yawning. As a critic he is superb, and his
scalpel cuts deep and true: 'Once it was the Imitation of Christ, now of
Hollywood'--Hollywood vs. Christ--the spurious in passion and the cry
on the Cross. Excellent as criticism, but Anthony Beavis is to learn that
the critic is not the savior. The true prophet does not cynically chide.
His poetry comes from his depths of passion. This Anthony Beavis is to
know, when once life in the raw has held him prisoner. So Anthony
Beavis is Everyman.

Aldous Huxley made his answer in Eyeless in Gaza, an answer

that he expands in the essays in Ends and Means. It is interesting in
these our days to note how often the novel is used for the propagation
of ideas. It has repeatedly been said by critics that literature, pure
literature if there be such a thing, must not be propaganda. I am not so
sure when I think of Dante and Faust. It depends on the perfect
blending of the author's intellectual or moral purpose with his
imagination. Whether Huxley has achieved this magic quality of sheer
convincingness in his novel or not is a bit beside the purpose. I suspect,
as an aside, that he has not: the thought dominates the imagination, and
his characters and situations and above all the curious confusion of
time(181)that he permits suggest the virtuoso rather than the creator.
But the thought is compelling, and the more than average success of the
book argues its timeliness. The essays are the gloss on the novel; and a
truly masterful novel--sayAnna Karenina--needs no gloss.
In its way Eyeless in Gaza is a morality story, like the old
morality play, Everyman, or the classic allegory Pilgrim's Progress. It
is the story of a man who achieved salvation, but only after the process
and the forces that lead to damnation have been abundantly revealed to
him, each in its own person and situation. We might almost call it an
earthly comedy with the vision at the end of a world with a happy
ending. But whether or not we accept the ending as the only possible
one, if human nature is not to perish, the description of the process of
disintegration and futility when life has lost its savor and its freedom is
worthy of close attention. If in the Brave New World he uses the
method of Utopia, here he turns again to realism and contemporary
post-war life. The characters, in a word, may be of the morality play,
but they are also realistically and even naturalistically convincing. To
enforce the moral and comment on each kind of situation there is in the

The other characters are skilfully contrived personifications of

nearly all the varied forces and motives in contemporary society on the
more comfortable levels. Thus the drama can pass in review almost all
of the contemporary attitudes, criticizing, en passant, the comments on
modern life of many by our present-day novelists. Thus there are those,
like the never weary sensualist Mary Amberly, who follow life by the
cultivation of the instinct, and above all the instinct of sex--Lawrence

and Gide. To these the lan vital, the urge of life, is never more than
the instinct to sexual irresponsibility. There is again the attitude of pure
cynicism --people are only pigs masquerading.

yourself in the presence of psychological atoms. A lot of these

atoms constitute normal experience and a selection from normal
experience constitutes 'personality.' Each individual atom is
unlike normal experience and still more unlike personality.
Conversely, each atom in one experience resembles the
corresponding atom in another. Viewed microscopically a
woman's body is just like a washstand, and Napoleon's
experience is just like Wellington's . . .

The moment you give people the chance to be piggish, they take
it--thankfully. That freedom you were talking about just now, the
freedom at the top of the social ladder--it's just the licence to be a pig;
or alternately a prig, a self-satisfied pharisee like my father. Or else
both at once, like my precious brother. Pig and prig simultaneously. In
Russia they haven't yet had the(183)chance to be pigs. Circumstances
have forced them to be ascetics. But suppose their economic
experiment succeeds: suppose a time comes when they're all
prosperous--what's to prevent them turning into Babbitts? Millions and
millions of soft, piggish Babbitts, ruled by a small minority of
ambitious Staitheses.

It was left to Blake to rationalize psychological atomism into a

philosophical system. Man, according to Blake (and after him,
according to Proust, according to Lawrence), is simply a succession of
states. Good and evil can be predicted only of states, not of individuals,
who in fact don't exist except as the places where(184) the states occur.
It is the end of personality in the old sense of the word.

There is pathetic Bryan Foxe, Horseface--is his name also

allegorical?--a hangover of Victorian ideas and ideals, a stammerer and
futile, as Victorian ideals have been stammering and futile to the new
generation after the war. Against him is the equally futile and
physically incompetent young savant, whose love story with Helen
Amberly is equally futile. All are almost as much an object of cynical
disapproval as Beppo, the frank sensualist, and Mark Staithes, the
severe but futile critic. You can't get anywhere in a world where
motives are so unreal and passion only a thing of nerves and glands.

Or take this shot at the new idea of the totalitarian state-- the
modern Moloch to which old and young are now doing sacrifice.

Huxley is equally critical of the ideas that are now in the

ascendancy. Here is his criticism of those who like Proust find the
secret of personality only in the reharvested past:

How in all this confusion, unreality, futility, banality, cruelty,

shall man find freedom? 'All modern history is a History of the Idea of
Freedom from Institutions. It is also the History of the Fact of Slavery
to the Institutions.' A curious, paradoxical, and yet deeply significant
sentence. Trying to save himself from slavery to old institutions, whose
discomfort has become galling, he invents an escape, a new institution,
a new deal that will guarantee to him his liberty. They do talk even in
Russia, Italy, and Germany, as well as in the United States, of
institutions that can preserve freedom. Submit to a machine that you
may be free, submit even at the price of persecution and bloodshed. We
shall force people to be free by confining them in concentration camps

States and Nations don't exist as such. There are only people.
Sets of people living in certain areas, having certain allegiances.
Nations won't change their national policies unless and until people
change their private policies. All governments, even Hitler's, even
Stalin's, even Mussolini's are representative. Today's national behavior-a large scale projection of today's individual behavior.

Matter, analyzed, consists of empty space and electric charges.

Take a woman and a washstand. Different in kind. But their
component electric charges are similar in kind. Odder still, each
of these component electric charges is different in kind from the
whole woman or washstand. Changes in quantity, when
sufficiently great, produce changes in quality. Now human
experience is analogous to matter. Analyze it--and you find

or denying them equal opportunity. The epsilons in the Brave New

World were free and knew it, as the ant in the ant hill.

Anthony Beavis saw the light after he met the wandering

doctor, anthropologist, lover of his fellow man, and devotee to the
gospel of doing good, Dr. Miller. Opportunely, like a miracle, Dr.
Miller turns up at the exact moment, to save the life of Staithes, lost
and broken in the wilds of Central America, and the soul of Anthony,
broken and bewildered and a self-sentenced exile from the evil that is
contemporary Europe. His first lesson is to become morally convinced
of the meaningfulness of life, as opposed to the current doctrine of
meaninglessness. To be sure, our contemporary science can find no
meaning in life. Orthodox scientists never go(186)beyond the question
how to the old theological question why. And in all the formulas of
science, from the constitution of the remotest galaxy in space to the life
story of man, his concern is only with the how. It is easy from this
modesty of motive to draw the conclusion, and many there are who
draw it, that there is no why. Nature is as it is, and to question its
purpose is to ask a question in a vacuum. Such is the cultivated
modesty of contemporary science, a sharp contrast to the old
confidence, that by its aid one could think the thoughts of God and read
the design of the cosmic universe. We are a long way off, not only from
Dante who lived in the unscientific and dark days of the Middle Ages
and the theologies of Saints Thomas and Augustine, but also from the
hopeful days of Goethe when science plucked its earliest ripened fruit
and tasting pronounced it of celestial flavor. Modern science is neither
optimistic nor pessimistic. It is, and offers no opinion.But the life of
man is of different texture from the life of cosmic nature. How, when,
why, we know not, but man has inherited, and cultivated his inheritance
of a moral nature, different quite, and with different values, from all
life that science can investigate and measure. And this life, his moral
nature, as his imagination assures him, is not meaningless. But it is man
alone that can give it meaning. This meaning can and must imply an
evolutionary process for man that is upward. Man, in spite of what look
like tragic backslidings, is getting better, and human society more
congenial. But this evolution is not by grace of a law of nature, but only
by man's own individual and composite effort. The motive for this
effort is love; love intelligently directed toward intelligently designed
ends. The law of love. 'Persistence, courage, endurance, all, fruits of
love.'Empirical facts;

What is the way out? It must come with the recognition of

man's full nature, with a full knowledge of the whole truth. This is the
first preliminary to all action; and this is the theme of the larger half of
the essays in Ends and Means. There can be no turning of one's back on
the intellect and on science its product. Such a romantic escape would
be to deny half of the nature of man and one of his highest glories. But
after all science is not an end, nor are (185)the institutions and comforts
that it can provide. The brave new world that it can create with its
leisure and safety is only a mistaking of the means for the end. And this
end is the cultivation of the full double nature of the individual, his
emotions and his intellect, his full personality with its instinctive love
for freedom and initiative.
Huxley is best as a critic of those who see only a segment of
human nature. He is bitter in his denunciation of D. H. Lawrence, but
what he says applies equally to all, who, like Gide, look for happiness
in lending themselves to the sensuous urge of physical life.
But Lawrence had never looked through a microscope--those
depths beneath depths of namelessness, crawling irrepressibly-- they
would have horrified him. He had insisted that the raw material should
be worked up--but worked only to a certain pitch and no further; that
the primal crawling energy should be used for the relatively higher
purpose of animal existence, but for no existence beyond the animal.
Arbitrarily, illogically.
In like manner he turns on those to whom life is a purely
intellectual process, who fear the sensuous and desiccate the tingling
nerve and the throbbing artery.
Thought as an end, knowledge as an end. And now it had
become suddenly manifest that they were only means-as definitely raw
material as life itself.

One. We are all capable of love for other human beings.

Two. We impose limitations on that love.
Three. We can transcend all these limitations--if we choose to.(187)

To cultivate the underlying impersonal consciousness, and thus

bring about awareness of others and transcend the limitations
(188)require improvements and developmental programs which it will
be necessary for us to undertake. A reasonable degree of loan financing
will offer outlets to our savings and would, I think, fit our established
institutional arrangements better than the more drastic program of
financing the whole from taxation. There will be differences of opinion
as to how much should be financed from taxation and how much from
borrowing . But, I repeat, it can all be tax finances if this policy is
deemed on balance the desirable one, despite the disadvantages referred
to above.

(It is a matter of observation that anyone who so desires can overcome

personal dislike, class feeling, national hatred, colour prejudice. Not
easy; but it can be done, if we have the will and know how to carry out
our good intentions.)
Four. Love expressing itself in good treatment breeds love. Hate
expressing itself in bad treatment breeds hate.
It is separateness, non-awareness, attachment to self, as the old
orthodox philosophy of Buddhism calls it, that is the curse that has
afflicted human nature with its evil. Separateness that has led to private
greed and ambition; that has led to public greed and ambition, that has
been dignified by the terms patriotism and national welfare and
manifest destiny. These are the vices that undermine and destroy
'goodness and love.' Man must contemplate goodness and love until
they exist and become motives for all conduct. 'God may or may not
exist.' Perhaps it is immaterial; but man can create deity by making
goodness and love, its attributes, prevail. Only then can peace prevail,
in the unity that combines individual differences and binds mankind
into one coherent and organic whole. 'Unity beyond the turmoil of
separations and divisions, goodness beyond the possibility of evil.'

Adam Smith on Public Investment.

Adam Smith laid down the excellent principle that it is the duty of the
sovereign or commonwealth to erect and maintain "those public
institutions and those public works, which, though they may be in the
highest degree advantageous to a great society, are, however, of such a
nature, that the profit could never repay the expense to any individual
or small number of individuals, and which it therefore cannot be
expected that any individual or small number of individuals should
erect or maintain" (Wealth of Nations, Book V, Chap. I, Part III).
This principle as here stated is amply broad enough to include
such projects as the TVA, urban redevelopment, slum clearance and
public housing, educational and public health facilities, and the like.

Is this a glimpse of the celestial vision? It is as near, perhaps, as

the modern mind can grasp. 'From one argument to another, step by
step toward a consummation where there is no more discourse, only
experience, only unmeditated knowledge, as of a color, a perfume, a
musical sound.' At any rate it can banish the twin evils that to Huxley
are the devils that have corrupted human nature. It will therefore cure
the world of the prevailing obsessions with money and power. Remove
these evils and we shall be not far short of the paradise that the idealists
of the twentieth century dream of. Instead it will do and teach the
things that make for peace. Such were the ideals of Karl Marx and
Lenin as well as Tagore and Gandhi.

Three conditions are involved in this principle. Each explains

why certain projects can be undertaken only by the government. First,
some projects, whether by reason of magnitude or risk, cannot be
undertaken by private enterprise even though they might in he end
prove to be self-liquidating or even highly profitable. There is a
prospect that the TVA and possibly the Columbia Valley projects will
fall into this category. Second, some projects in the nature of the case
cannot be expected to yield a return covering the direct cost, yet are
nevertheless genuinely profitable in the sense that they enlarge total
national income by an amount at least equal to their cost. Third, some

never suitable for public investment. Nevertheless, the point does need
stressing that typically truly self-liquidating projects ought in general to
be suitable for private enterprise. It is, however, especially projects that
are not directly self-liquidating projects--projects which nonetheless
contribute to over-all Gross Product an amount(190)and gets only the
preliminaries. Or to change the figure, like the disciples of old, after the
resurrection of Christ, were told to cleanse their minds and hearts,
gather in an upper chamber, and await the Pentecost, Huxley urges the
gathering of all men of good will to await the message.

projects contribute very little to "Gross National Product," yet in terms

of cultural and social values they are deemed to contribute to "wellbeing" sufficiently to justify the "cost" in terms of productive resources
devoted to these activities. The former two are theoretically
capable(189)of statistical measurement though in practice accuracy or
precision is often difficult; the third represents a value judgment
entered by the community as a whole through democratic processes.
The first and last conditions are, I think, widely accepted and
offer little difficulty. The second condition, however, has not been
adequately recognized or appraised. Admittedly the principle involved
is a difficult one in practice. What is the over-all effect of a certain
governmental development project upon Gross National Product? This
is often not easy to estimate. But we have no right to turn a project
down until we have made the attempt. The comparative approach is
often useful. It will not be difficult in some cases to see that, with
respect to a certain project that brings no direct return to the Treasury
whatever, the over-all effect on the magnitude of the Gross National
Product is far greater than that of another project involving the same
outlay, which cost, however, is directly reimbursable to the Treasury.
The realizable direct return is i fact not of great importance for correct
social accounting. In all cases, whatever the reimbursable returns may
be, the valid economic consideration should be: What is the over-all net
addition to Gross National Product from this project in relation to its
cost? If this fundamental principle were firmly grasped, we should have
much less emphasis than is now placed upon "self- liquidating"
projects. A good example is a free public road, which is clearly not
self-liquidating but nonetheless productive in a very real sense.

How shall mind and heart be reconciled and the claims of both
adequately answered? To answer 'by the universal acceptance of the
gospel of love' reminds us of the mission of Saint Francis or of one
greater than the affectionate and gentle saint. Huxley is asking for the
moral of the New Testament divorced from its theology. His
grandfather invented the word agnostic, and helped teach a view of
nature pervaded by natural law; the grandson, lonely and aimless in this
impersonal world, is turning again to the warmth and spiritual
companionship that has been associated with revealed religion. But the
flame of love is not kindled in a vacuum. The spectacle of a world
degenerating into an idolatry of Hollywood and Ford hardly calls its
spark into being. The revelation of some great experience alone can
inspire and maintain its sincere flow. Otherwise it is an exhibition of
literary dexterity like passing fireworks. In whose name is Aldous
Huxley speaking?
Is mysticism to be the religion of the immediate future? There
are many who so believe. Is the East, in return for its economic and
political conquest by the West, again invading the West, as it did first
in the days after Plato, bearing gifts of a new awareness and an
intimately felt union of self with a power infinitely greater? The
pendulum is swinging, here where metaphysics has always been
uncongenial, from the objectivity and individualism of ancient Greece
to the mysticism of the later disciples of Plato. Christianity was one
episode; are Hindu philosophy and the Bhagavat-Gt and Buddha
going to be one more chapter of this long story? Many thinkers of
today are assured of the coming triumph of the vision of the Eastern

Indeed, if a project is clearly "self-liquidating" in character,

rigorous adherents of private enterprise should oppose such a project
for public investment. If it is clearly self-liquidating (and of a size that
is manageable), it could and should be undertaken by private enterprise.
Self-liquidating projects of a magnitude so vast as to be unsuitable for
private enterprise, or involving the assumption of great risk in a single
venture, are appropriate for public investment and can be undertaken
only by government. Thus it is not true that self-liquidating projects are

mystic. See S. Radhakrishnan, Eastern Religions and Western


of good will the dismal spectacle today of a world that once more is
meeting force with force, and solving differences of opinion by the
answer of armaments and exhaustion. And in this devastating effort the
other gifts of civilization that might be used for human regeneration are
postponed or forgotten.(193)


The severest and most consistent critic of our contemporary

civilization appeared a generation before its full implication became
apparent, and when the trumpets of science were sounding the near
redemption of humanity. Tolstoi had the earnest conviction that broke
with science, and a jealous consistency that transformed him into an
affectionate but temperamental peasant. Like Saint Francis he chose the
path of humility, and barefoot sought salvation. Like the poet Jeremiah
who saw his city bowed under the yoke of iniquity and would make of
himself a moving example, he too bent his neck to a yoke. It is hard to
fancy the immaculate Aldous Huxley in this role of the exemplary
prophet. Even Gandhi when occasion serves will ride in a Rolls-Royce
and allow himself the hospitality of princes. The way of the consistent
reformer is beset today with manifold temptations and difficulties.

'I am not a dilettante of chaos.--The world, no doubt, at any given
moment of its existence, is anything you want to call it. But it is out of
all this aimless dispersion, out of all these zigzagging efforts, out of all
this disorderly growth, that the ideal of an epoch ends by disentangling
itself. Myriads of human activities are scattered in all directions by the
indifferent forces of self-interest, of passion, even of crime and
madness; and they proceed to destroy themselves in their clashes or
lose themselves in the void--or so it seems.
'But, out of all their number, some few of these activities are
endowed with a little constancy by the pure in heart, for reasons which
certainly seem to respond to the most elementary designs of the Spirit.

This is still the age of science, and to be quite convincing the

reformer must, either as Tolstoi, make the grand renunciation of
science and all its ways, summon us back to the primitive simplicity of
the fancied age of gold--as does the poet Tagore--and call science a
false illusion born of intellectual pride; or, what is even more difficult,
discover the way to the promised land through the discipline and richer
application of the gifts of science. And it is precisely this that is the
largest contribution of Jules Romains to the imaginative thought of
today. The gifted Frenchman is trying to do for the twentieth century
what Goethe strove to do for the nineteenth, find a way of life for the
individual, satisfying to the full the intellectual, physical, and moral
nature of man; and at the same time gain for himself in its satisfaction
that serenity that made Goethe for all time an example of achieved
culture. Jules Romains is striving to express, out of 'all the disorderly
growth' and 'zigzagging effort' of the world today, 'the ideal of an
epoch'--an interesting effort and stupendous.

'Then there occur epidemics, transmutations of objective, of

valuation, which are hard to explain. Everything comes to pass as
though the whole had chosen to make progress by means of a series of
clumsy jolts. In the confusion of wills, there must surely be some "of
PEACE and concord, the extinction of greed, selfish ambition, and
war--beautiful ideals all, and since the dawn of history the burden of
prophets and poets. The healing of the disease, how obvious even to an
elementary thinker; and the history of human endeavor to crown the
angel and shackle the beast is the story of saints and martyrs from
Buddha to the latest martyr who chose a concentration camp in
preference to regimentation. But there is against the effort of every man

Huxley approached the task by an exposure of some of(194)the trends

of science, the efforts of biologists, psychologists, and efficiency
engineers to standardize humanity. And he shakes his head at the
melancholy spectacle of the neglect of the imaginative and spiritual
side of human nature. Romains begins with a new study of what
science is revealing. To study and solve the problem raised by science
we must know more of science and correct its errors by better
knowledge. And of all the sciences Romains selects those that Huxley
most feared, biology and psychology. These are the newest, offer most
to the sensitive imagination, and may carry the largest promise for the

created that does not think, feel, act in complete accord with the superorganism of which it is a part. How efficient, how eternal.
Our ancient biological reformers started with the assumption
that a termite society could not be a success unless it was constructed
on the plan of a super-organism, and that such a super- organism must
necessarily conform to the fundamental laws of the individual
organism. [It is the king of the Termites speaking.] Rigid eugenics
combined with rigid enforcement of the regulation requiring all antisocial, diseased, and superannuated individuals promptly to join the
choir invisible, at the same time solved the problem of ethics and
hygiene, for we were thus enabled, so to speak, to ram virtue and health
back into the germ-plasm where they belong. And since we thus
compelled not only our workers and soldiers, but even our kings and
queens to be born virtuous and to continue so throughout life, the
midcretacious wowser [individualistic] caste, finding nothing to do,
automatically disappeared.

Many centuries ago a moralist praised the industry and wisdom

of the ant. 'Go to the ant . . . learn of her and be wise.' Since then there
have been many philosophers and poets who have praised the wisdom
of the ants and bees, and their contrivances for mutual security and cooperative labor. But more recently with the interest in the psychology
of crowds, there has been the effort to see in the perfection of the
community life of these insects the emergence of a something more
than the life of the single individual, a communal spirit, a superorganism, as it were, that is even more real and compelling in power
than the individual. It is invisible, but its potency is seen in the entire
submission to it of the single individual, whether queen, warrior, or
worker. It assigns functions, prescribes the manner of living, and the
propagation of the species. It is the pan-insect, in whose life and in
whose life alone each member of the community has its being. It is the
god of the tribe.

Professor Wheeler, in his Foibles of Insects and Men, is

doubtless indulging in a bit of quite appropriate humor. But here is also
a scientific view of the biological source and value of social ethics and
individual behavior. In these communities there is a god, a spirit, from
whom all things flow, and all are conditioned to act in accord with his
will. It is the thing once we called herd instinct, now we study it in man
and call it crowd psychology. Why is it that cattle when they feed all
turn their heads in the same direction; is it something akin to the
instinct that sets human beings to feeding in a common circle? Is it not
possible that the spirit that governs, moves, and incites a crowd is more
real and more potent than any individual in the crowd? Bergson tells
the story of a parish priest haranguing his congregation. The
congregation was in tears, but one man in the audience sat unmoved.
On being asked why he did not respond to(196)the priest's eloquence,
he replied: 'I do not belong to this parish.' Bergson draws from this a
conclusion to suit his theory of laughter; but cannot the conclusion
more readily be drawn, that the man was not participating because he
was not subject to the spirit of this particular group? He was an

How efficient the tribe becomes in its adaptation to

circumstance when its will is thus singly made to prevail. Millennia and
geological epochs before man and the vertebrates began their chaotic
single-handed struggle against environment with their blind will to
survive, these creatures were even as they are now, triumphant against
cataclysm, immune in their perfect organization against accident that
destroyed(195)species and changed the face of the earth. Here is the
most carefully calculated division of labor, here the motto, one for all
and all for one, is carried out to its simplest detail. Here no insect is

Is it not possible, again, that in the careful study of the

individual in which we have been engaged these many centuries, we
may have forgotten quite as important a factor in human life, the spirit
of the group? Certainly we can see on all sides today an effort to atone
for past delinquencies. A regiment of soldiers has a soul, and the
regiment does not die while there is one private left and its colors that
serve as its secret symbol. Graduates and undergraduates are caught by
the spell of their Alma Mater, the tradition, the spirit, the genius of their
school. And even in a devout theological argument Professor Edward
Scribner Ames reasons in a parallel manner to the existence of a god,
the genius of the community of his worshippers. Thus the group makes
its deity, gives him substance in imagination, and in return from him
comes that sense of union, that subordination of the individual to the
spirit of the super-organism. It was in precisely the same manner,
unconsciously at first and then consciously, that the Roman conceived
of the perpetuity of the Eternal City, and made a god of its genius. And
is not the ancient mystical rite of initiation, caricatured perhaps today at
times, again not an assertion that over the community there broods an
anxious and jealous spirit, which demands the complete and painful
subjection of the new member?

The nineteenth century, the age of democracy, encouraged the

ideal of individual excellence, self-respect, individual freedom, selfreliance. The end of the century and the beginning of the twentieth see
the gradual undermining of this ideal. The chaos of the social and
international relations, pre-war and post-war, that have been the
favorite theme of contemporary literature, has again raised the
question, is it not high time that thought be taken of man as a member
of a group? The old and orthodox notion that society exists for the
welfare of the individual has slowly been replaced in many minds by a
new and revolutionary doctrine which sees no meaning or freedom in
the isolated individual. He exists only that the welfare of the
community, that mystical super-organism, may be preserved. And this
new doctrine with its scientific and metaphysical background, has its
influence, not only on the political and economic theories of Marxians
and Nazis, but also on the imaginations of artists who speak the
language neither of communism nor of the totalitarian state. It is a new
faith, an active belief that a bond may be found, real and compelling,
that shall bring order out of the present chaos.
'I am not a dilettante of chaos.' So writes Jules Romains as he
begins in his novel the long excursion through contemporary
(198)Europe that is perhaps to reveal at last who are the Men of Good
Will, who potentially or actually may make the community, the superorganism, and with a fruitful ideal, conscious and unconscious, to guide
their actions, may hope to become the saviors of Europe. But many
years before he planned this Odyssey of contemporary Europe he had
become a convert to the biological-psychological faith that the spirit
that unites individuals can be more real than the individuals
themselves, that consciously or unconsciously communities are ever
forming and dissolving, and that the spirit that gives life to these unions
can be either beneficent or malevolent. He became a member of a small
literary group, fired by a common purpose, of whom Duhamel was
another, who gave to this spirit the name Unanimism. It became their
purpose to make a scientific study of this theme, for the cultivation of
the right unanimisms may and should be a means 'to discover a
spiritual meaning in the apparent meaninglessness of life.' And many in

The conscious urge that each member of the group at times

feels in the welfare of its genius; how this breaks out in the barbaric,
enthusiastic, and beautiful liturgies of the collegiate spectators in the
grandstand at a football game; the massing of colors and of voices is its
ritual, and the willingness of the contestant to spend and be spent to
the(197)utmost in its service, a manifestation of its reality. But its
potency may be and probably is the greater as it extends down into the
inherited memory and the subconscious. 'I could not love thee, dear, so
much, loved I not honor more' may today seem a fantastic conceit of
the vanished age of a cavalier poet, but it was no conceit then. Honor is
only in part a motive for individual excellence: much more is it in its
depths a necessary homage the individual by unstained action pays to
the tradition of his class. Noblesse oblige. If the spirit of the group is so
compelling in the motives and actions of the cultured aristocrat, what
must be its controlling power when the claims and responsibilities of
social life are more elemental?

France, where they take literature seriously, took up with fervor the
new doctrine.

paths of uncounted feet. This is something that inspires the poetry also
of Walt Whitman.

It is more than a doctrine, it is an experience, and not quite so

novel as the new name for it would suggest--this going out, as it were,
of one's own personality so as to embrace the wider horizon. Let me
quote Romains's own telling of his experience of this communion with
something greater and more real than one's own self. 'I am in the rue
d'Amsterdam as is a cell in the body of a man or in the leaf of a tree.
And I am at this moment the only one to possess consciousness. To me
it is given to bring to the light of consciousness on the one side the
throbs of its motors, on the other the movements and thoughts of each
of its individual human beings.' Wordsworth was similarly uplifted into
a consciousness of oneness with nature. But he was a rural poet with a
rural background. Romains is a child of the city. And what Wordsworth
felt in the presence of Nature, Romains feels in the throb of the life of
the city. See the imaginative(199)picture that flows through the childish
experience of Bastide with his hoop.

. . . Thus, by blue Ontario's shore, While the winds fann'd me,

and the waves come trooping toward me,
I thrill'd with the Power's pulsations-Feeling that something was lacking in contemporary literature
with its obsession with the individual, what Jules Romains calls a
'turning with complacence towards a study of states of mind, fragile,
infinitely particular and perishable,' these young men founded a literary
school, and in Romains discovered their standard bearer and leading
genius. It must be based, this school, upon a scrupulous study of the
sciences, it must be endowed with the utmost of sensitivity to recognize
the breath of the spirit it was theirs to(200)cultivate. The author of the
new age must be, 'un homme qui, appuy sur une double formation
littraire et scientifique, possde une sensibilit extrme aux tats
d'esprit et aux mouvements de la collectivit; et qui de plus a le don

It was fine to have got as far away as this. The houses at the
side of the road looked at you with astonishment. They all looked at
your face and said to themselves: 'How tired he must be!' But they were
wrong if they imagined that Louis had come there for their benefit. His
goal was far beyond, and he must get there before night, 'before night
overtook him,' as the books said.

This is a new naturalism, a new study of the nature of man who

arrives at completeness only in his collective state. If this be studied
with the same intentness that, say, Proust has given to only a partial and
that an evanescent aspect of human nature, 'a vision centered only on
the individual,' what new and rich laws, spiritual laws in the widest
sense, may not be laid bare.*Again the critic can interject that all this is
not quite as new as this young school fancied. Zola has it more than
once in his descriptions of Paris, of mines, and of the soul of an army.
Sociologists and anthropologists are scientifically at work, of course,
on the same lines in their pedestrian way. And Rousseau once had a
word or two to say of the volont gnral, that sustaining general will
of a community, on which he founded his theory of the state.

Such an intimate understanding can come only to one who, as

Romains says of himself, 'has bathed himself in Paris, intoxicated by
Paris for hours and days innumerable.'
In volume two--a scene too long to be quoted here--is the going
forth of Jerphanion's soul as from the roof of his college he looks over
the sleeping Paris below him. It is like the poetry of another, but
unhappy, city dweller, Thomas Carlyle , in Sartor Resartus, as alone in
the clouds of Princes Street the poet moves with the spirit of the
darkened city. Unanimism, the spirit that controls a community and its
physical background of streets and factories, of noisy traffic and the

The value and the novelty of this new school lay in the fact that
it was an urban school. Modern civilization is urban, based on the
factory and the market, the wharf, the railway, and the street. Its rhythm

is not that of the winds and streams and rustle of leaves, of the slow
routine of rural towns and villages, as it was before modern industry
transformed cities and transplanted populations. Now neighbors are not
neighbors as the old world knew them, but the multitudes, all strangers,
the restless and resistless stream of unknown and unknowable that tread
in each other's footsteps in a city street. In this multitudinous and
apparently aimless contemporary life, can one possess that ubiquitous
sense that came once to the poet among the hills and villages of
Westmorland? How can the barriers that seem so obviously to separate
these millions be broken down, and one feel the life of a city? Is there a
life of the city? Can one sense the presence, physical and psychic, the
thought and the emotion, of this chaotic all? Not if it is a chaos. But is
it chaos(201)only for those who lack the right sensitiveness and have
not the gift of discovering the range possible to consciousness?

sexual love, would offer no great promise of thinking on the scale of

contemporary civilization. Men of Good Will, so far as the work has
progressed, yet offers little definite clue of the author's final purpose.
But of its present-day significance and the personal moral that it will
convey, of these--and these are chief--there can be no question. This
man has seen farther and questioned more closely than perhaps any
author today alive. We do not need to wait for his final answer. Perhaps
there will be nothing final, for we are yet in the process of
Two things I think we can assert at once as the leading motives
of his life's work. He has put them into the mouth of his younger
generation, growing up as he did in pre-war Paris. 'What must we have
to keep us from fear?' Fear, that dread uncertainty of the future, that
trembling of the nerves of the imagination before the unknown. The
post-war years have lived with fear. The intellect must solve the riddle
of the unknown and make it known, and then be it ever so dangerous it
need not inspire fear. And second, 'an indignation which he felt at sight
of any example of intellectual chaos.' And in this past generation,
heaven knows, these examples of intellectual chaos have been a
plentiful plague. Add to these a moral distress at ugliness--the thing
that our industrial civilization has only too abundantly clothed itself in-and I think we have the motives that created Romains. For is it not true
that physical ugliness is the outer sign of inner chaos?

But its very complexity repels most, and they retire, as Proust,
behind the barred and curtained windows of their homes, refusing to
admit daylight and noise, which perplex and interfere with their minute
study. Only at night when the monster is asleep do they venture abroad,
and then only to the haunts of their kind. Yes, the city has a personality,
a conscious life of its own, for him who can perceive. Its churches and
factories, its busses and railways, its stream of people, its skyline of
buildings, its glitter of lights, all this is its external body. Within is the
throb of the rhythmic pulse that is its life, and deeper, the thought and
emotion that is its soul. The new poetry must penetrate to these depths
to understand and create. The new ideas that will influence and mould
conduct must arise in these depths or life is only a transient parasite. To
translate this dynamic life into poetry and prose, this became the
mission of Unanimism.

Now smell that! Is it bad enough for you? None of your pity.
Pity's a scent sachet that serves to stop your nose. Have a good smell at
the vileness of these men, these women, these children. Do you smell
it? Good. And now will you tell me if a Civilization isn't just a bad joke
when it wonders by how much airplanes will soon shorten the journey
from Paris to Berlin, or whether it really ought to have gas or electric
lighting in the Champs- Elyses, while all the time that enormous
multitude is squatting in its own excrement?

Had he ceased his work with all that he published before the
beginning of the Men of Good Will, we should have had no Jules
Romains, only Farigoule, an interesting and exceedingly clever and
graceful writer, with penetrating insight, but no great scope. Even his
dramas, good as they are, give no great hint of the scope of this man's
preparation for his magnum opus. And the Psyche trilogy, after
showing how far an author can go in the portrayal of the mystery of

Obviously we have here something that is relatively new in

literature. The great tradition of European literature from the Greek on,
with the possible exception of Rome, has been built upon the ideal of a

firm and self-sufficient individualism. Homer, Sophocles, Montaigne,

Shakespeare, Milton, Goethe--yes even Dante--have seen the individual
in relation to himself and his conscience--his god, if you will. 'To thine
own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not
then be false to any man'; in these words Shakespeare may be
mimicking a contemporary fault(203)of overdoing trite maxims, but his
satire would lose its point were the words not a common adage. Out of
this faith in the individual has come the ideal of self-reliant democracy
and liberalism and the laissez-faire of the nineteenth-century ethical
code. Rousseau's doctrine of the original goodness of the unspoiled
individual is only a congenial weed growing in this common garden.
Whether the discipline come from without, or it be merely following
the natural, unspoiled instinct, it is the individual that counts in the long
run. He exists for the glory of God, or for his own glory. It is for his
security and use that society was created, by some conscious or
unconscious social contract; it is his creature with its constitution and
by-laws alterable at will or even at caprice. Social institutions at best
are an implement, a useful compact, a social contract, alterable when
occasion arises, and only designed for the welfare of the supreme
reality of the individual. They are the husk, he is the kernel. They are
clothes, he, the living body.

The 'spirit' that creates the community, the unanimism, may be

trivial and transitory, it may be powerful and enduring: it may be
malevolent and devastating, it may be beneficent(204) and creative. For
very early Jules Romains realized that all these creative powers that
inspire and give life to our actions and bring people into accord are not
of the same complexion and value. Above all they can be a means of
creating God--they can by the contrary be the means of evoking the
Devil. Devil or God, each is the spirit that gives life and motion and
meaning to conduct. In this chapter I have purposely omitted reference
to his dramas. They are in effect short dramatic essays, clever and
thoughtful, but to me not much more than preparations for his larger
works in fiction. Each discovers one of the monstrous delusions of the
present day, the false gods, the false leaders, that are corrupting modern
society. He will do this better in his magnum opus, Men of Good Will.
It may be weak and transitory. See his picture in Volume I of
Men of Good Will, of the crowd before a shop window watching a sign
painter at work within. The crowd stands, individuals come and pause,
others, wearied, pass after gazing; but as long as the group is there a
single curiosity holds them in momentary crystallization, a community
with one dominating motive. They all hear the single voice and respond
to the call--a brief, irrelevant, but yet obvious community--unanimism.
Curious, too, how passengers on a liner on a voyage, each with a
different personality and background, each there with a quite different
purpose, will for the space of the voyage forge a very real interest in
each other, vow eternal friendship. The spirit of the voyage has created
a community--unanimism. The voyage over, the gangplank, and the
mystic union is broken, vows are forgotten. 'Who is that interesting
man I met last year on the way to Europe? I vowed I would never
forget him. But--.'

Now that these later days, with more scientific insight into the
social needs of man, and the social unrest caused by war and new
disorder, and the apparent chaos and ugliness of efforts at new
adjustments, have made us a trifle suspicious of old ideals, it is not
unexpected, it is in fact a necessary phase of the contemporary
revolution, to turn from the individual, who has proved himself so
inadequate, to the group; perhaps in it we can discover something that
may 'keep us safe from fear.' It is quite to be expected that this new
philosophy should accompany, and be a comment and criticism of, the
efforts made in every country to find some substitute, whether in the
ideal of the totalitarian state or the metaphysics of communism, for the
rusty and declaredly ineffective machinery of individualistic

The group may be of any size. In The Death of a Nobody [La

Mort de quelqu'un], Romains does a little experiment whose results
any and each of us can verify. It is an obscure tenement in an obscure
region of Paris. The inmates in general come and go quite without
raising the interest of each other. Among them is the Nobody. No one
knows who he is, what he does; quite inconspicuous he is a Nobody

Le Dieu de corps the title that suggests Hollywood, The Body's

Rapture, is to offend every idea that Romains had in composing the
trilogy. The god of the flesh is Priapus, and it is he that the union first
creates by its perfect communion of physical rapture. But as their union
is also spiritual there is Eros also, the god of the spirit of love; and
when they are separated it is an even greater god that keeps alert their

that even(205)the janitor fails to notice. Then suddenly this Nobody

dies. Instantly the tenement becomes a community united by a common
spirit, the inconspicuous Nobody is in everyone's imagination. People
speak to each other who have never seen each other in their daily
passing. They speak, they share a common emotion, bitten all of them
by a common curiosity, they become neighbors, the tenement has for
the duration of the mutual interest become a community, and physical
proximity has become moral. Even more, the community of live
interest has conferred something of immortality on the unknown dead.
Unanimism and its transient power.Something mystical can be made of
this, something reminiscent of the mysticism of early Christianity--'He
lives in us.' Somehow I do not like to press this point, though some
critics of Romains have regarded it as central to his doctrine.

The story is as simple as that of any man and maid. Lucienne

has left Paris to teach music in a provincial town. We have the perfect
study of her lonely bewildered efforts, of her entrance into a
conservative bourgeois family, of the two daughters so strangely
unlike, of the father and mother of these girls, again so strangely
unlike, and last of Pierre, a purser on a liner, visiting the family and
designed as the suitor of one of the daughters. The very perplexity and
crossed confusion, and diversity of wills and good-tempered
misunderstandings, are a perfect picture of a little world in chaos, a
family in genial disaccord, and of two strangers, Lucienne and Pierre,
who are drawn into the region of this benignant chaos. It is only
spiritually uncomfortable, and that because there is in it no spirit of

But this, we may say, is only what every drill sergeant does
with his company of recruits. True, but it can also be of supreme and
lasting significance. And when it thus attains, as it were, super-human
power, bending and moulding will and destiny, it may achieve dignity
and become a god--or a devil. It is the soul, the ultimate reality, of the
fused community. To describe this and its effects our author wrote two
little treatises, the Manuel de Dification, 1910, and the Petit
Introduction l'Unanimisme, in 1925. But best of all he composed the
Psyche trilogy. The title, the Greek term for soul, is significant and has
escaped most commentators.

This first volume might well be called Eros, for it is the story
told by the girl of the awakening of a god, the god of spiritual love, for
the call of the body is felt faintly and then only once. At first it is
scarcely understood; but more and more insistently comes the call and
Pierre and Lucienne are drawn into a community of interest out of the
tangle and miscellany that is the family. The volume closes when once
the god is fully awake, and his power recognized in a mutual
acceptance by both. Now they have a world of order and space of their
own, and a future. The second volume is the(207)story immediately
following their marriage. It is a modern cult of Priapus the god of
physical ecstasy, and his worship in the act of a perfect physical union.
Offensive to some no doubt, for it lays bare with perfect frankness the
domestic liturgy of marriage. But to Romains this is a religion as real in
the twentieth century as it was to the celebrants of the liturgy of the god
of fertility in the dark ages of paganism. And the evoe here is written

Of all recently published works this little series of three novels

has been most gratuitously misunderstood, and it easily lends itself to
misunderstanding. Lucienne, Le Dieu de corps and Quand le Navire.
Translators, even, have thought of it as a psychological study of love
and its textbook, first of the girl, Lucienne and the awakening of love,
then of the man Pierre immediately after their marriage, then of both
when the ship has separated them. It can be all this, but something
uniquely more, a modern and scientific cult of the gods of love, Eros
and Priapus, spirit and(206)flesh, that unite these two strangers and
make of them the perfect small community, the unit, husband and wife.
Here now we have something more than one and one making two, but
one and one blending into one. For this reason to substitute for the title

in the longest bits of imaginative meandering. Men of Good Will is an

epic of a lost Europe, an Odyssey, where everyone is a Ulysses, and
significance or its lack attaches to the adventures only as some seem
directed to a good end and others come to merited censure. As it started
and as it progresses one is driven more and more to the conclusion that
its only adequate conclusion can be either the perfect society that
Huxley describes in his Brave New World, a society such as Karl Marx
conceived and Lenin tried to make prevail, or on the other hand the
medieval Day of Judgment when the great gathering shall take place
and the assessment of rewards and punishment. For the one the author
is not yet prepared, for he speaks none too enthusiastically of the
'Marxist collectivism with all its barrack yard bureaucratic drabness';
and the idea of a god sitting in judgment over the embers of a burnt-out
world is hardly in keeping with unanimistic theology.

by one who knows all that modern biology and psychology has made
naked of the mystery of sex.
The union of the two must now be tested by absence of one
from the home, and their mystical union is the theme of the third
volume, When the Ship. The mystical god who has now been created
for this little family of two shows his potency by bringing them
together, though three thousand miles intervene, through the power of
vision. It is a curious transference of vision that in the Middle Ages
served saints in their moments of ecstasy, and enabled the spirit of man
to commune with the spirit of the universe. Here it serves a humble
purpose, but yet has the same power. Lucienne and Pierre commune,
with its aid, though between them lies the abyss of the Atlantic, so
strong and lasting is the god that their love has created. Here is a god of
love whose attributes now transcend the pagan Eros and Priapus.
Unanimism, but yet a unanimism of lesser scope, in that its power is
bounded by only two. The old naturalism with its obsession with
science had treated love more and more as a necessary and unattractive
biological episode. This new naturalism, based on a deeper knowledge
of science, is a protest, and restores love to its ancient and mystical rite,
a means of creating deity. A new paganism?

Critics, while they admired the power of narration in the stream

of forthcoming volumes, still protested the evident lack of any center of
interest; there is no coherent story. When will the plot of the men who
have this desired good will emerge? The answer ought to be plain. No
sooner than it does in contemporary Europe. It is our epic and we its
characters, with our conflicts of ideas. There are many men of good
will, and they work, even they, at cross purposes. It is(209)the epic of
an idea. Which special brand of 'good will' the author will ultimately
choose as his own, that will have to wait until the chapters begin to
approach our own day. And the story of their emergence will mark the
conclusion of the novel--if ever it will have a conclusion. It is the epic
of an idea, and the idea, as it passes from shadowy anticipation into
more and more concrete realization, is the hero.

The old religions had their gods also for larger communities-Jehovah the god of Israel and Palestine, the Genius of the city of Rome,
the god of the state. So the later Romains also looks for a spirit that
might unite larger and even larger communities, and be the means of
exalting mankind,(208)by discovering in man hitherto unlooked for
powers. This seems to be the theme for his larger and yet uncompleted
work, Men of Good Will.

In consequence people come and go in the novel with the same

unrelated design as they do in real life on the streets of any large city-and Paris is the home of this novel. Here the crowd, foule, is more
powerful than the individual and more real. People come and go, we
see some once who may never reappear. Others have mysterious
errands and make a second call. But all, great and small, recognized or
unrecognized, are the city. It is so in the novel. New characters appear
constantly, and characters who seemed designed for great ends are lost

In one way it is hard to speak intelligently of this yet

uncompleted novel. For it is not a novel, as the term is applied to
Thackeray Vanity Fair or Tolstoi's War and Peace, or even Rolland
Jean Christophe. For in spite of the subtitle, 'novel without a hero,' that
Thackeray gives to his story of English society, each of these novels
has central characters or groups of characters that serve as points of the
compass, and it is always easy for the reader to keep his bearings, even

forever. They form little cliques or groups, these, significant or

insignificant, appear like eddies in a current; they may last for a volume
or two, or finish their tale almost before it is started. It is a cinema of
our life from the days before the Great War to the events that are taking
shape today.In consequence the author for our convenience places at
the end of each volume an index of characters--a sort of Who's Who.
And to aid us still more, lest we forget, a synopsis of the action at the
end of each volume. Both first aids deserve our gratitude.

Men of Good Will! A benediction from of old set out to

winnow them from the crowd and claim their allegiance. May they
once more, one of these days, be reassembled by 'good tidings'! May
they find a sure means of recognizing one another, to the end that this
world, of which they are the merit and the salt, may not perish!
Only this discovery can 'keep us safe from fear,' and guard us
against chaos, the deadliest cause of fear. No wonder Romains finds it
necessary to paint on a very large canvas.

The small and the great are here, each on his own business of
living. All ranks of society and people of every complexion. It is the
marvel of modern story-tellers' art that he is able to keep them distinct
and compelling. They are the good and the bad, the rich bourgeois,
'money taking a rest,' and the laborers in factories, that new modern
institution full of unrest for the future, politicians and statesmen-- many
recognizable under their fictitious names, some frankly identified-there are entrepreneurs and small boys getting their first jobs, there are
university professors and scientists,(210)there are authors popular and
unknown, the whole world passes unjudged in review, and will
continue to pass, with ever new faces until the tale of volumes is

All the gods or devils that Europe is setting up in perplexed

search for freedom from fear; and the way that communities, little and
big, form and dissolve as the painful search goes on: Such is the
ambitious theme of the novel. To all this is joined a perfect use of all
that the new science of psychology has offered in the study of behavior.
For example, early in the series Quinette, a bewildered
bookbinder,(211)who wears a magnetic belt to restore his selfconfidence, finds himself forming a bond with a murderer--a transitory
unanimism--that gives him now a sense of power. To carry on in this
new confidence, he murders his protg and lays aside his 'Hercules'
belt. The inhibitions that had troubled him are now all laid, and he
becomes a voluntary member of the police force on the watch for
crime--a new bond. Quinette disappears early in the series, to appear
many volumes later. He is a symbol of something restless and
suppressed in contemporary life, and he had his 'fear.' Only his method
of conquering it is questionable. It will probably conquer him.

But what is of first importance is the idea that dominates each

of these forming and dissolving groups. This does not appear and
disappear. It may change its complexion, it may grow in power and be
transformed, but it is still the idea; and it is the complexity of the ideas,
personified now in this and now in that group, that sustains and is
sustained by it, that is the plot of the novel. The various ideas that
Europe has been living by in the past generation and is living by today,
and their significance as they pass in review, and receive willy-nilly the
reader's praise or censure, this is the grand theme of this epic of
contemporary Europe. These ideas are the contemporary deities, quite
apart from any professed religion, and allow no partial worship.
Contemporary Europe has many gods and many Mammons. Can men
of good will be discovered who will discover in turn a true God?

Or there is that most excellent volume, The Proud and the

Meek, where we have the contrast between the rich bourgeoisie, with
its fears and its precautions and its futilities, and the insecure poor-what recent fiction has failed to exploit this now trite theme? Against
the great man of power and wealth is the exquisite Abb Jeanne, the
meek. Is the world the dichotomy the Abb fancied? Is the final quarrel
to be Nietzsche or Christ? Are these the two great antithetical
unanimisms now being cultivated?


He pondered the almost unbelievable pleasures of Charity,

about which he had had his doubts that morning, that Charity which
was loving without taking. He thought of that miracle of the spirit by
which, though the sufferings of others are bound upon our shoulders,
we feel a sense of comfort, deeper and more real than any given by
purely selfish pleasures. At such moments we understand that nothing
in the world is sweeter than the knowledge that we have been able to
give one moment's happiness to another, nothing more precious than
the sense that we have shared another's sorrow. Perfect compassion,
pity untouched by condescension, washed clean of pride, even of the
pride of doing good.

'N. B.--Mustn't let above views interfere with experimental

But science is only an implement, not an end, and a scientist
alone in a society is as futile as a table of logarithms where there is no
one to use it.
There are the repeated pictures of pre-war and war politics, and
above all the anxiety during the Agadir incident. All this centers about
the portrait of Gurau, an anxious liberal, while in the background is the
idealist Juares, with his socialism and the practical understanding, too,
that if war comes all socialists will abandon theory and take up arms
with the rest of bewildered Europe. Against the idealism of socialists
and liberals there is the more downright 'collective will' that modern
industry is creating. Something quite new in the world, the proletarian
consciousness and conscience. All these apostles of the new, socialists
and Marxists, are(213)being united by a mystic belief 'that the true
secret of social order lies ready to their hands, only awaiting discovery.'
It is a new religion and has already its god. Are the men of good will,
the saviors of society to be found here? Romains thinks not.

There is something futile in the literary world, as it is at present.

So on the one side Romains gives us the figure of Strigelius, the
symbol of the new literature of artful devices and its effort to discover
some automatic and mathematical(212)clue to poetry. Against him is
the blatant Allory, with his popular following and his ambition to be
entered into the Acad6mie Franaise. He fails to be elected, and there
is madness and near-suicide. Against the futility of the literary world
there is the rich imagination of the true scientist and its utterly practical

Against these is the age-old church, the institution that has

fought these many centuries to preserve its order and bring its mission
to prevail. Will it, can it, be suited to modern conditions, and serve
again to redeem the world from darkness, and banish the new
paganisms? And we have the story of the Abb Mionnet, a new
churchman equipped to do battle for the church with the new artillery
of a modernized church. There is no mysticism here like the Abb
Jeanne's experience of God in the last chapter of Volume III:

Competitive posts, academic honours, salaries, decorations,

marble busts set at the doors of great libraries . . . the sound of such
things is as the rustle of grass beneath the foot. The whole spirit of man
steps forth accoutred to do battle with serious issues. He snaps his
fingers at Peter or Paul. In Peter or Paul he takes his temporary lodging
as an army bivouacs in barns upon its line of march. Peter or Paul will
be indemnified later --if there is time to think of such things. All that
matters is that the army shall press forward.

Similarly, although he regarded Christ as quite a close friend,

barely hidden from his eyes; although he might sometimes go
so far as to dream that Christ existed only for him, he found no
contradiction in imagining that Christ existed also for
everybody else, and from eternity; even for the whole creation
of the stellar universe.

(Ridiculously narrow view of education today, narrower than it

ever was. Almost entire abandonment of attempts to educate conscious
sensibility, emotions and passions, compared with what was done in
classical times. Woman today. Romanticism, etc. . . .)
'Vast revolution possible.'

Instead of this personal motive the new church accepts the

methods of science and business efficiency. It is a church of this world,
and the Abb is worldly minded and intelligently practical, and as 'wise
as the serpent,' a worthy rival of the Marquis de Saint-Papoul, the
industrialist, or Gurau, the politician. Can the world be saved from fear
by this new Christ? Again Romains is the critic of the recent revival of
Catholic intellectualism and efficient institutionalism.

humanity moves forward. . . . If, of course, we could organize in

Europe generally a group, of say, two or three thousand men, not more,
who were intelligent and of absolute integrity, yet ready to take every
risk and submit to every sacrifice, prepared to obey without question,
that would indeed be marvellous! . . . The introduction of such a factor
into the course of events would act like an explosive. The whole course
of history would be altered; it would become, literally, 'incalculable.'

'We are all of us in some sort looking for a "church." According

to our various tastes we are attracted by the socialists, the Sillon, the
Action Franaise.' 'Surely what is tormenting us is just this feeling that
we are wandering vaguely in a huge mass of humanity, that we are lost
in it.' And there we have it. The search for the spirit that will make man
not a mob but a community. And so we study Masonry for what of
strength there is in its secret bonds. And Laulerque, the(214)restless
idealist who is looking for a church, gets in touch with some mystic,
secret organization that hints its power to control national destinies and
bring peace. It, instead, perhaps was instrumental in bringing on the
war. And Jallez and Jerphanion, the two youths who leave the uiversity
in these critical years just before the war, set out to find themselves and
a cause worthy of complete devotion. Is it any wonder, that in these
even more critical years after the war, when Lenin or Mussolini or
Hitler spoke in a loud voice and made their proclamation good with
plentiful displays of force, idealistic youth became storm troopers, the
camici neri, and even the secret police and bombers of the new spirit
that professed to bring peace and banish fear? But this will be the story
of the last volumes.

For it is this theme of a possible 'community of existence' that runs like

a scarlet thread through all the startings and stoppings of this unusual
book. In ancient times man had this community of existence in religion,
or in politics, perhaps even in art or adventure. But in the chaos of
contemporary life:(215)
It seems to me that the prospect of the distant future consoles
you rather too easily for the threat of immediate disasters . . .
What I am looking for is the chance of joining forces with men
of fixed convictions, men of energy, men closely united in a
common purpose to work, by the most direct means possible to
them, for the cure of certain evils and the prevention of certain
dangers. By the word 'Church' I mean unity and enthusiasm
raised to a higher power than normal, and not the chatter of
What of the portions of the book that have not yet appeared?
We are now down only to the battle of Verdun.But Verdun--something
for itself should be said of this remarkable volume. It is an epic within
an epic; or better, a drama, like the Aeschylian Greek, a tragedy, as
replete with impending destiny. Verdun is the hero, the idea, that gives
unity to the plot. At first all is chaos and divided counsels. Slowly the
clouds gather, at first no bigger than a man's hand; there is the same
criss-cross of apprehension and apathy; and even when the catastrophe
breaks, ironical refusal to accept its seriousness. Then the idea is born.
It is the story of the emergence of the unanimism that made possible
the great martyrdom and ultimate victory.

Yet there is little idealism in the proclamation of the

organization to which Laulerque devoted his life.
We must have wisdom he says to realize that the greatest
enterprises of history, the noblest undertakings, the schemes which in
the long run have most benefited the human race, have always shown,
at close range, just this unedifying mixture of meanness, selfishness,
and general hastiness. Pure idealism has, on the whole, counted for
very little with the individuals concerned. Nevertheless that's how

Is Jules Romains only a journalist and diagnostician who with

skilful hand and brain can record what his insight into men's lives
perceives; or is he a prophet also, who after he has made the record will
find the men of good will who will have discovered the way? I am not
sure that it makes much difference in the long run whether he ever
attains the mantle of the prophet, or remains, as he is now, only the
most excellently qualified diagnostician. We may dismiss also the fear
that the present catastrophe to France may not allow him to complete
the novel; for in a way the novel is already complete, or better, can
never be completed till man becomes finally 'fixed.' For it is the story
of the conflict of ideas that makes our world, and this is a conflict that
will never, so long as humanity remains fluid, see an end. Always it
will be the story of communities dissolving into a mob and then
reforming into new communities. We live so close to the special color
of the problem of our own age that often we fancy its pain and
bewilderment to be unique. But there is(216)little new under the sun,
and there has been little since the wise old Hebrew composed the

'The same boy who is nauseated by the drivel of an ideal pacifist is

ready to throw away his young life for the ideal of his nationality.'
'Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people; and
walk ye in all the way that I have commanded you, that it may be well
with you.'
A FEW days ago a friend commenting on the accumulation of horror in
the day's news exclaimed, 'I wish I could play God for two minutes.'
Though a self-convinced unbeliever himself, he is a philosopher and I
might gladly have allowed him the role, but only for two minutes.
There are only too many playing God. 'I am the greatest German who
has ever lived. Mankind, led by the German race is now in a period of
transition, just as it was when men first began to pass from the ape-like
into the human stage. Now they are passing from the human into the
super-human stage. I have preceded them. In so far as there is a God in
the world, I am He' (Quoted by Wickham Steed, from an alleged
interview, in Out War Aims, Sicker and Warburg.) Megalomania?
Psychology can explain it. But psychology alone is helpless to lay this
restless spirit and ruthless. It has behind it today a nation in arms,
sacrificing(219)itself, and all who oppose, on the altar of the new
Deity. No, there are too many mortals affecting to nod and shake the
world. Even my philosopher friend might come to take himself

But Jules Romains has given us a new name for an old recipe,
Unanimism. And in giving it a new name he has also given a new
fervor to the search for the spirit that binds and at the same time sets
man free.(217)

Playing God, or fancying oneself the mouthpiece of Deity, there

is little to choose between them. And of those today who have been
called to this role we are fortunate to have the confession of the one
whose name to his followers is a greeting and a benediction, Hitler
Mein Kampf. It is his confession and his dedication. But it is not the
confession, like Saint Augustine's, of one bowed in humility before
God, drawn from the well of past offenses and asking for remission and
grace. Nor is it a dedication, like that of Isaiah, a man whose unclean

'What we have to fight for is the security of the existence and the
increase of our race and our people, the nourishment of its children and
the preservation of the purity of the blood, the freedom and
independence of the fatherland in order to enable our people to mature
for the fulfillment of the mission which the Creator of the universe has
allotted to them.'

lips had been touched by a coal from the altar, standing forth from
among a people of unclean lips: 'Here am I, send me.' It is to no power
without that this man owes obedience and before whom he bows the
knee. The confession is addressed to his world that has gone whoring
after false gods, and the only voice to which he hearkens is his own.

than a slight parallel between Hitler and the founder of Islam, and
between Mein Kampf and the Koran. Both men come with the same
perfect assurance, and their books become motives for action. Both
offer the same alternative to their contemporaries, Mein Kampf or the
sword. And both promise a heaven of bliss to the faithful. Hitler's
progress since he took power has been no less dramatic and startling,
and, whatever the final issue, the ideas that gave it motive are worth
dispassionate study.

The conviction that he was a man apart came early.

But more than once I was tormented by the thought that, if
Destiny had put me in the place of those incapable or criminal scamps
or incompetents of our propaganda service, a different kind of battle
would have been announced to Destiny.

Mein Kampf is a bible; it is more, it has been and still is a best

seller. It is a textbook in all German schools, it is being read with
anxious curiosity by those who live in its shadow. It is a bible, for it
contains maxims of conduct, lessons in art and literary criticism, and an
appraisement of nearly all the issues of life today. This man who in
forced retirement--he wrote in prison sequestered from his following-passed in review the panorama of his life and of contemporary
Germany, pronounced judgment, and delivered his program. It was
again like the story of Mohammed, sequestered in Medina during the
Hegira from Mecca, composing there the more militant Suras of the
Koran. He writes to uplift the hearts of the faithful, a discipline that
will make(221)them in the fullness of time masters of the earth. It is all
there, a book of the law of life.

In those months, for the first time, I felt fully the whims of
fortune which kept me at the front in a place where any lucky move on
the part of a Negro could shoot me down, while somewhere else I
would have been able to render a different service to my country.
His life from that moment has been dedicated to his own altar.
His is a new faith for an old people who had known the
aftermath of disaster and disillusionment and divided counsels. One
thinks of Joan of Arc, but Saint Joan was an instrument and not the
agent. One thinks of Mohammed, but the(220)founder of Islam was
only the last and chief of the prophets. But the fervor of Hitler's faith
and its spectacular success recall some of the most dramatic crises and
enthusiasms of history. He is only repeating some of the most
interesting and instructive chapters of history-interesting and
instructive only in a long and dispassionate perspective.

The ideas are not new. On the contrary it is because they are as
old as humanity and as elemental in their simplicity that they are so
eagerly embraced. They are a call back to the old tribal loyalties and
unquestioning faith in a tribal god and creed. 'And I will take you to me
for a people, and I will be to you a god.' Loyalty to the leader, who
justifies this loyalty by deeds of self-sacrifice, and as unquestioning
faith in the excellence of the tribe, elect and consecrated of old for
leadership and a blessing to all people. Hitler gave these ideas, that
were not new, to a Germany in the aftermath of the Great War. They
are the primitive antithesis of all the ideas of the dignity of man, and
individual self-responsibility, and liberal democracy, that the
eighteenth and the nineteenth centuries had cultivated. The days of
Germany's and Europe's depression, while Hitler was completing his
Lehrjahre in Vienna and Munich, had shaken the people's faith in the

They are stories of militant enthusiasms, and blazing with

fanatical intolerance. The results often seem miraculous. The story of
the spread of Mohammedism comes to mind. The utterly inconspicuous
region of Mecca and Medina, surrounded by inhospitable desert, the
jarring feuds of sparsely scattered tribes whose names had never been
written in history; and then Mohammed, and the Koran, and the mind
and face of three continents were altered for all time. There is more

liberal tradition; when Hitler found his voice the masses were ready. He
was not interested in the intellectuals.

ideas of a man to the rest of the world is the most ideal and the most
natural one.

It is a return to the primitive, and an extension only of the tribal

constitution of the old Germany. The demand for Lebensraum, that
restless desire for expansion at the expense of neighbors, reminds us of
the expedition of Ariovistus, whom Caesar snubbed in his first year in
Gaul. Or perhaps better of the Germanic tribes in the weakening days
of the Roman Empire that destroyed classical civilization. The divine
right of the leader to lead, and the divine obligation of the tribe to
follow his star. It is no wonder that the Nazi for his creed goes back in
imagination to the days of the sagas of the Nibelungs. Their god is the
primitive god of battles, and their heroes the wasters of cities.
Intellectual Europe for centuries has been trying to forget this creed. It
is no wonder that Hitler was not interested in the intellectuals. (222)

Gradually it extends the circle of its influence and gains new

adherents. Now it must, as with all religion, have its sacred places and
its shrine.
In connection with this, the geopolitical importance of a center
of a movement cannot be overrated. Only the presence of such a center
and of a place, bathed in the magic of a Mecca or a Rome, can at length
give a movement that force which is rooted in the inner unity and in the
recognition of a head that represents this unity.

The first article of this creed is the complete authority of the

Leader, Der Fhrer. Mankind loves the strong man. Germany adores

Never before in the history of a cult or party has the inner story
of its rise to power been told with colder impassivity. It is as though a
scientist were analyzing the steps of his experiment, or the astronomer
the approach of a new celestial body. The Leader of the new movement
seems as inevitable(223)as a law of nature and as little to be
questioned. With his appearance all 'waves of free thought' are frozen.

Like a woman, whose psychic feeling is influenced less by

abstract reasoning than by an indefinable, sentimental longing for
complementary strength, who will submit to the strong man rather than
dominate the weakling, thus the masses love the ruler rather than the
suppliant, and inwardly they are far more satisfied by a doctrine which
tolerates no rival than by the grant of liberal freedom; they often feel at
a loss what to do with it, and even easily feel themselves deserted.

Therefore, out of the host of sometimes millions of people, who

individually more or less clearly and distinctly guess this truth, partly
perhaps understand it, one man must step forward in order to form,
with apodictic force, out of the wavering world of imagination of the
great masses, granite principles, and to take up the fight for their sole
correctness, until out of the playing waves of a free world of thought a
brazen rock of uniform combination of form and will arises.

Whether this idea comes from Nietzsche or from Carlyle makes

little difference. Both Carlyle and Nietzsche would be horrified by the
romantic excess of its messianic ecstasy, and the cynical materialism of
its program. It is messianic in its origin.

The order he creates is 'anti-parliamentarian.' It rejects on

principle the decision of a majority by which the leader is degraded to
the position of the executive of the will and opinion of others. 'All this
is a sign of the decay of mankind.' When the Leader once appears he is
supreme. And as the prophet of old ascended to Sinai, from whence
were delivered the Law and the Commandments, so now this new
prophet has built himself a place apart from and above the daily routine
of lesser humanity, that from its eminence may be heard the new Law
that will create a new people. Like the prophet he had a unique

An ingenious idea originates in the brain of a man who now

feels himself called upon to transmit his knowledge to the rest of
mankind: he now preaches his views and gradually he gains a certain
circle of followers. This state of the direct personal transmittal of the

responsibility that cannot be shared. 'He who wants to be the leader,

bears, with the highest, unrestricted authority, also the ultimate and the
most serious responsibility.'

The only difference is that to Kipling the thought brought with

it a becoming humility. The Fuehrer so far has shown few traces of this

'The general right for such an activity is based upon its

necessity, the personal right on success.' And the Fuehrer has known
success. It is only in these last months that this success has been
challenged. Is it already too late? Is he the man of destiny to teach the
world a new creed?

Who are the elect? Hitler's idea of the pre-eminence of the

Aryan is too much of a commonplace today to need notice. He is
convinced of its leadership in history and culture and all the arts. The
Aryans are the culture bearers and culture creators, and because of their
success destined to rule. But all this is by way of a preface to the
selection of the branch of this race that is called now to accept the
Covenant and by its discipline make itself ready for the high mission.
And here the orthodox Nazi creed sets itself squarely against all newly
designed orders for world improvement. Thinkers(225)and planners,
like Lenin, Karl Marx, or more modest but no less ardent advocates,
dream of humanity as a whole, a world brotherhood or a world
federation. Nazism is founded upon the doctrine of one race, one
nation, and all who are without are dwellers in darkness and workers of

Make a people believe that they are the people chosen by

destiny to re-create the world, and they will, under the leader, accept
the mission. So did the Arab tribesmen in the seventh century when
they burst out of the desert of Arabia upon an astonished world. So
seriously did they take to heart the magic of the Koran. In our own days
Jules Romains is(224)looking for 'the men of good will' who will bring
a new day to distracted Europe. Who are the elect whom Mein Kampf is
summoning to make the supreme sacrifice that its new creed may
transform a nation and write a new design in history?

The state is the race, the extended individual, one in blood, one
in creed, one in enthusiasm, one in self-sacrifice. He has adopted as his
own a term used before, Volkische Staat, the folkish state. For the bond
of unity must go deeper than economic and political and even social
interests, to the blood. It is again the extended family, the larger tribe,
the blood brotherhood where all for one and one for all is an instinctive
motive for all action. In the old state 'temples of glory were only
erected to merchants and state officials.' Here they will be erected only
to 'folkish' leaders.

'The race question not only furnishes the key to world history,
but also to human culture as a whole.' Such is Adolf Hitler's
interpretation of the genesis and exodus of civilization. He learned it
not in books or from the labors of philosophers. The insight came to
him--as it did to the solitary Mohammed--in his communion with
himself, part of a reminiscence from the old poetry of the Teutonic
past, and part from the reminiscence from boyhood when the Old
Testament and the Covenant between Jehovah and the chosen people
were read in the home and in the church. A belief in a peculiar heritage
and in a people chosen of old for a great cosmic purpose needs no
evidence beyond the poetry of an inner conviction.

This is a little different from the idea of the totalitarian state that
we see in Italy or Russia, for in both of these, though there is much
enthusiasm, there is lacking the mystic doctrine of the sacrament of
blood union that makes for all other unions, and much of the mystic
devotion that makes sacrifice of self a joy. 'Democracy has no
convictions for which people could stake their lives.' Crude and
eccentric as Hitler's German is in most of Mein Kampf, when he comes
to his definition of his state, he grows almost lyrical.

God of our fathers, known of old,

Lord of the far-flung battle line,
Beneath whose awful hand we hold
Dominion over palm and pine.


The State is not an assembly of commercial parties in a certain

prescribed space for the fulfilment of economic tasks, but the
organization of a community of physically and mentally equal human
beings for the better possibility of the furtherance of their species as
well as for the fulfilment of the goal of their existence assigned to them
by Providence . . . The instinct of preserving the species is the first
cause for the formation of human communities. But the State is a folk
organism and not an economic organism.

The state, the leader who is the state personified, is the God.
Race pride, state pride, these are synonymous. To achieve this
again as in the tradition of the Koran, there must be no classes in the
state, no unions of workers or of employers, no capitalists and no
proletarians. The theory of 'human rights,' which threw a mantle of
protection about the individual and gave him certain rights of life,
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are out of date. The individual has
rights only in the rights of All, his liberty is that of co-operating to the
measure of his ability with the All, and his pursuit of happiness the
quest for the welfare of the All. This is his religion-- is it any wonder
that in this new state, there can be only one(227)religion?--and all
religious dogmas that look elsewhere than to the state for their
inspiration are frowned upon and even actively persecuted. You cannot
serve God and mammon. To whom is Nazi Germany now erecting an

Thus the most essential supposition for the formation and

preservation of a State is the presence of a certain feeling of
homogeneity. . . . as well as the readiness to risk one's life for this with
all means, something that will lead nations on their(226)own soil to the
creation of heroic virtues, but parasites to mendacious hypocrisy and
malicious cruelty . . . Then the best protection will not be represented in
its arms, but in its citizens; not fortress walls will protect it, but the
living wall of men and women, filled with highest love for the country
and with fanatical national enthusiasm.

All who dwell in the state, as all who dwelt in the old state of
Judea, are not citizens. Only the elect by race may hope for citizenship,
others are 'strangers within thy gates,' who are to be treated as
discretion dictates. The pure by blood, disciplined to self-sacrifice and
enthusiasm, are the citizens. Others who are less fortunate, though their
stay in the land may be one of generations, are subjects--such as the
conquered people, like Poles or Czechs. Still farther from the light are
aliens, who are only allowed on tolerance, to be treated with hostility,
or at best suspicion, for their language and dress betray them, and they
may become agents of corruption. Never in European history has the
doctrine of the nation received such a downright definition. For its
nearest parallel we must look to the constitution of Sparta. But Sparta
never dreamed of calling itself anything more than a city-state. The
idea of a nation was yet centuries in the future.

'Fanatical enthusiasm,' a single will, this in the place of divided

counsels, personal fears, and a sense of insecurity, and the inhibitions
of action that come with all ideas of personal futility in the present-day
chaos. The state authority is directed solely for the purpose of
producing a higher personality, healthier, cleaner, and more cultured,
more alert, more ready for action. Is it any wonder that on the promise
of the new age all young Germany turned to the voice that promised
hope and action; that it willingly underwent and undergoes the sternest
discipline, hangs the picture of the Leader even in the more intimate
regions of the household, and goes forth confidently to a war that will
bring it and him glory and justification?
He who speaks of a mission of the German people on this earth
must know that it can exist only in the formation of a State which sees
its highest task in the preservation and the promotion of the most noble
elements of our nationality which have remained, even of the entire
man-kind, unharmed.

It is a stern creed for a stern people, and the definition of a new

cult of freedom. 'I shall allow the gospel of the free man to be preached
to the man who is master of life and death, of human fear and
superstition, who has learned to control his body and muscles and
nerves, but remains at the same time impervious to the temptations of

the mind and of science presumably free.' What is being done in

Germany in the name of education is already well known. Education
must be designed only for the 'folkish' mind. As for universal
education: 'Universal education is the most corroding and
disintegrating poison that Liberation has ever invented for its own
destruction.'This and the preceding quotation are from Hermann
Rauschning, Hitler Speaks. Though published by an enemy of the
regime, these ideas are perfectly consistent with the spirit of Mein
Kampf and Hitler's published speeches.(228)

end of the war, Hitler has charged against this race. They are the chief
enemies of the Lord. Feeling so strangely, we can understand why he
acts so ruthlessly.
Politically he [the Jew] denies to the State all means of self.
preservation, he destroys the basis of any national self-dependence and
defense, he destroys the confidence in the leaders, he(229)derides
history and the past, and he pulls down into the gutter every thing
which is truly great. In the domain of culture he infects art, literature,
the theater, smites natural feeling, overthrows all conceptions of beauty
and sublimity, of nobility and quality, and in turn he pulls the people
down into the confines of his own swinish nature.

If the Aryans are the superior people, and of these the Germans
the elect, who are the inferior?and why Hitler's peculiar and
temperamental bitterness against the Jew? 'Therefore, I believe today
that I am acting in the sense of the Almighty Creator: by warding off
the Jews I am fighting for the Lord's work.' When a conviction like this
becomes so deep that it has all the inner convincingness of inspiration,
there is little more to be said about it, unless it be to look with the
psychiatrist for its source. It is deeply felt. Hence it must be from a
super-personal source. It is a religious mandate. When King Saul failed
to carry out to the letter the command of Jehovah to exterminate the
Amalekites, man, woman, child, and beast, the prophet Samuel
ruthlessly allowed him to experience the full enormity of his offense.
Mein Kampf is as ruthless--here pity is dead, there can be no
compromise with the foes of the true religion.

There shall be no intercourse in the new state between these

deadly parasites and the truly elect. Hence the horror of uncleanness in
any mixed marriage. His words of condemnation remind one of the
judgment of the stern prophet Ezra:
And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them. Ye have
trespassed, and have married strange women, to increase the guilt of
Israel. Now therefore make confession unto the Lord, the God of your
fathers, and do his pleasure and separate yourselves from the people of
the land, and from strange women.
The blood-mixing, however, with the lowering of the racial
level caused by it, is the sole cause of the dying-off of old cultures; for
the people do not perish by lost wars, but by the loss of that force of
resistance which is contained only in the pure blood.

For the Jew, by heredity and long environment, is the foe of the
'folkish state.' Self-sacrifice for the good of the All can never become
an article in his creed. He is by nature now a seeker of individual power
through all the insidious agencies his cunning has devised. One by one
he has gained control-- so the book alleges--of the agencies that sway
public opinion, the press, the theatre, and even the machinery of
education. One by one he has climbed into the learned professions-law, medicine, scholarship--until he threatens the very existence of the
ideal of the state and patriotism. He cloaks this greed--so the argument
runs--with the oily phrases of internationalism and mutual tolerance,
only that he may devour the more secretly. All the evils of post-war
Germany and the tragedy of the collapse of German civil morale at the

It is an ironic jest of history that the same moral and spiritual

indignation of the Old Testament Hebrew, the first Chosen Race,
should now be turned against them by the newly Elect. It is the same
horror of the unclean thing that the righteous cannot tolerate in their
midst, lest their eyes should be tempted and their devotion to their god
suffer corruption and they be guilty of sin.


And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like
Israel, whom God went to redeem unto himself for a people,
and to make him a name, and to do great things for you, and
terrible things for thy land.

War and courage have done more great things than charity. Not
your sympathy, but your bravery hath hitherto saved the
Hitler and his legions do act like Nietzsche's mythical 'blond
beast.' If war is the natural element for a people, how happy Germany
should be today! 'The mild Goddess of Peace can march only side by
side with the God of War, and that every great deed of this peace needs
the protection and help of force.' War must be ruthless, and enemies to
be longed for.

And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and judgments
so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
Only take heed to thy self, and keep thy soul diligently, lest
thou forget the things which thine eyes saw.(230)
Thou shalt be blessed above all people. And thou shalt consume
all the peoples which the Lord thy God shall deliver unto thee;
thine eye shall not pity them: neither shalt thou serve their gods.

In the ruthless attack upon an adversary the people sees at all

times a proof of its own right, and it perceives the renunciation of his
destruction as an uncertainty as regards its own right, if not as a sign of
its own wrong . . . They must not shun the hatred of the enemies of our
nationality and our view of life and its expression, but they should long
for it.(231)

Every place whereon the sole of your foot shall tread shall be
yours--there shall be no man able to stand before you. (2
Samuel VII, Deuteronomy IV, VII, XI)

The cost of a war will be amply restored later by a higher

culture that will come as its blessing. 'No sacrifice to ensure political
independence and freedom can be too great. Whatever is withdrawn
from general cultural matters by a disproportionate requirement of
armament, for the State is later restored in richest measure.' The past
twenty years have borne witness, and our children's children will yet be
paying the price. 'Their fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the
children's teeth are set on edge.' Never perhaps in all literature has the
cult of Force been so nakedly displayed, and so shamelessly
worshipped. Will cynicism have the last word?

A faith so potent, a resolution so ruthless, can be kept alive only

by constant calls to action. His people are 'believers and fighters.' And
here we are reminded of the apparent ruthlessness of Nietzsche's 'blond
beast.' 'The world was not meant for cowardly nations.' 'Mankind has
grown strong in eternal struggle, and it will perish only through eternal
peace.' This does square beautifully with Nietzsche's address by
Zarathustra to the soldiers:
Ye shall love peace as a means to new wars--and the short
peace more than the long.

A cynical creed. Human nature is essentially base. The savagery

of raw nature in the race for survival, after all these years of so-called
civilization and enlightenment, is still unescapable. 'He who wants to
live should fight, therefore, and he who does not want to battle in this
world of eternal struggle does not deserve to be alive.' Such is the truth
that this thinker has distilled from the story of history. There have been
others who have shared this creed; but now he is making it the battlecry of a people in arms. 'But if nations fight for their existence on this

You I advise not to work, but to fight. You I advise not to

peace, but to victory. Let your work be a fight, let your peace be
a victory.
Ye say it is a good cause which halloweth even war? I say unto
you: it is the good war which halloweth every cause.


planet--that is, if they are approached by the fateful question of "to be

or not to be"-- all reflections concerning humanity or aesthetics resolve
themselves into nothing.'

should be the target of any campaign by propaganda that dreams of

success. Yet the prophet has his contempt for the masses; there is with
him none of the liberal ideology that dreams of the excellence of the
nature of the submerged half of a population, none of the glorification
of the proletarian that is an essential part of the equipment of the
sentimental communist or reformer. Hitler is least of all a
sentimentalist, unless it is in his love of that abstraction 'the German

Here we have it, the note that blends all the miscellaneous verbiage of
Mein Kampf into a book like the Koran or the Bible:the cynicism of a
seer who gives us his measure of human nature; a gospel based on a
cynical contempt for all independent human motive. I hope the reader
will remember with me that there is something in both the Hebrew
Bible and in the Koran that contradicts this militant and exclusive
creed. There is the depth of a spiritual experience that Hitler and his
crew never dreamed of; and more a belief in the value of the individual
soul, even the poorest, that Nazism can never attain to.

All propaganda has to be popular and has to adapt its spiritual

level to the perception of the least intelligent of those toward whom it
intends to direct itself . . . The more modest, then, that its scientific
ballast is, and the more it exclusively considers the feelings of the
masses, the more striking will be its success . . . The great masses'
receptive ability is only very limited,(233)and their understanding is
small, but their forgetfulness is great. As a consequence of these facts
all effective propaganda has to limit itself only to a very few points and
to use them like slogans until even the very last man is able to imagine
what is intended by such a word.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the methods he lays

down for the education of the elect--propaganda for mass education.
And with the efficiency (232) of the agencies for direct and constant
mass education, the mouth of the leader is ever at the ear of the led.
Hitler early guessed, or saw in a vision, the approach to the
mass mind; he shows his genius in the manner in which he proposed to
get a hearing and bend to his will the imaginations of millions. His
ideas of the state may not be, are not, original. All his devices for the
policy of the Third Reich are accepted by him from varied sources. But
his is the living imagination which lent them a new persuasiveness, and
he it was who conveyed them to the imagination of the country,
especially of the youth, and made them the message of a new gospel.
One can learn a great deal about propaganda, its use and abuse, from
Mein Kampf.

Propaganda must be effective, it need not be truthful. 'The task

of propaganda is, for instance, not to evaluate the various rights, but far
more to stress exclusively the one that is represented by it. It has not to
search into truth as far as this is favorable to others, in order to present
it then to the masses with doctrinaire honesty, but it has rather to serve
its own truth uninterruptedly.' It was with this early insight that he
began in the years immediately after the war to build his party. He has
not needed to vary his technique. 'Influence on the great masses,
concentration on a few points, continuous repetition of the latter, selfassured and confident wording of the texts in the form of apodictic
assertion, greatest persistency in spreading, and patience in awaiting
the results.' Thus he proceeded, always keeping before him the analogy
of a military campaign. 'Concentrate on a single enemy.' Since he
began in Vienna in the months immediately after the Great War, the
story of his victories is the story of his dramatic and ruthless use of

It is to be addressed 'only to the masses.' 'It has to appeal

forever and only to the masses.' The intellectuals, who are in a hopeless
minority, must and should be ignored. Their sympathies may be
awakened; but because they have a stake in the old regime, have
something to lose by any revolution, they are hopelessly conservative.
Propaganda must aim not at enlightenment, but at action. Only the
masses who are restless, have nothing to lose, are eager for action,

By its means, and the cult of action that is its end, Hitler hopes
to found--or he is founding?--a new state. A state of perfect obedience
and perfect order. A perfectly homogenous state where all the citizens
will be of one race, one idea, one culture, one desire, and ever alert to
exterminate the enemy within and hold in lawful subjection the enemy
without. A state where the alarm bell is always ringing, and one never
goes forth ungirt of his sword. One thinks of the incident in the Old
Testament when the Prophet Nehemiah brought back the rejoicing
captives to rebuild the sacred city of Jerusalem. Their first work was to
restore the walls of the sacred city that they might be a bulwark against
the enemy. And everyman at his labor went armed.(234)

Liberalism as a tradition, from the days of Montaigne, the father

of liberal European thought, has placed its hope upon the disciplined
and free individual. Hitler's contempt for human nature never grows
more bitter than when he speaks of all liberal institutions. It is as
though, once a believer in them, he had found his faith shattered in the
debris after the Great War, and in despair had turned to a new worship.
'Universal education is the most corroding and disintegrating poison
that liberalism ever invented for its own destruction.' This has been
quoted before, but it points to the first (235) institution that liberalism
holds sacred. 'We set ourselves the task of breeding types, not
individualities.' So much for an institution that believes in the
sacredness of the individual. He is even more disillusionedly bitter
about parliament. 'Parliamentary bed-bugs,' 'parliamentary cattle
trading,' parliament, the 'greatest babbling institution of all time,' the
'gravedigger of the German nation and the German Reich.'So much for
the second institution of liberal government.

And it came to pass from that time forth, that half of my

servants wrought in the work, and half of them held the spears, the
shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind
all the house of Judah. They that builded the wall and they that bare
burdens laded themselves, every one with one of his hands wrought in
the work, and with the other held his weapon; and the builders, every
one had his sword girded by his side, and so builded.

His argument goes even deeper. 'Liberalism is based upon

utterly false assumptions. It rejects the aristocratic principle in nature;
instead of the eternal privilege of force and strength, it uses the mass of
numbers and their dead weight.' Majority rule, the method of all
liberalism, 'sins against the aristocratic basis of nature.' 'A heroic
decision is not likely to come from a hundred cowards.' There were
events in post-war Germany, as there have been many in all post-war
nations, to justify a sweeping inquiry. A diseased society can, if
desperate, throw up a fanaticism like this. Only this fanatic is also a
genius, a genius with a gift of making himself heard, and he has no
scruples. 'I have no scruples, and I will use whatever weapons I please.'
National Socialism is a challenge, perhaps to the death, of all that the
tradition of liberalism has built in the past three centuries. It is a return
to the distant tribal past.

But there have been those with minds that will not down, whose
words come not malapropos at such moments. Montaigne loved his city
of Paris. 'I love Paris so tenderly that even her spots, her blemishes, and
her warts are dear to me.' But he could also write in a day when it was
quite as painful as today to preserve one's faith in human nature: 'I
esteem all men as my countrymen; and as kindly embrace a Polonian as
a Frenchman.' And of the virtue of perfect obedience he also has a
word in passing. 'The commonwealth requireth some to betray, some to
lie, some to massacre: leave we that commission to people more
obedient and pliable.' Finally of the civic virtue of perfect order: 'There
is no course of life so weak and sottish as that which is managed by
Order, Method, and Discipline.' These were Montaigne's last words,
written at a time when order was seemingly the one thing desired by
civil-war torn France. Here again, it may be, we have a good word for
war-torn Europe. One can pay too high a price for the blessing of

More than once in Germany and in other parts of the world, the
ideal of the National Socialist dictator has been compared with the
teachings of Carlyle in Heroes and Hero Worship. Some professed
Carlyle admirers have been abashed at seeing the teaching of their
master come to life. And Carlyle's attitude toward the war for liberation

of the slaves in America does not add to their comfort. Were Carlyle
and then Nietzsche the spiritual ancestors of Hitler and of the
intolerance that in its grasping for Lebensraum can admit no
compromise? The question is an interesting one, but it cannot be
answered here. But behind the Carlyle of the Heroes and the Latterday
Pamphlets is also the Carlyle of SartorResartus. (236)And even in the
Heroes and Hero Worship there is this sentence, in the chapter that
brings the book to a conclusion. It is an imaginary address by
Cromwell to Parliament. 'You have had such an opportunity as no
Parliament in Europe has ever had! Christ's Law, the Right and True,
was to be in some measure made the Law of this land. In place of that,
you have got into your idle pedantries, constitutionalities, bottomless
cavillings and questionings about written laws for my coming here;-and would send the whole matter in chaos again, because I have no
Notary's parchment, but only God's voice from the battle-whirlwind,
for being President among you.' There is no need for farther comment;
to Carlyle Cromwell was leading the English into the Promised Land.
To what destination is Hitler leading Germany?

'Do you hear music in your sleep? It is not a separate, slender melody,
but a mighty, growing, perfectly harmonized hymn. Who doesn't love
beauty? I love it in all, even its smaller manifestations . . . And won't
life be beautiful under socialism! No more war, no more poverty, or
oppression, or national barriers . . . Nothing! How human beings have
sullied, have poisoned the world!'
'WE THE people,' to the framers of the constitution of the United States
the phrase wore its meaning with a difference. Even the words of
President Lincoln, 'of the people, by the people, and for the people,'
have a significance today that the audience at Gettysburg never
dreamed of. For on that very day there was a young German Jew who
was thinking of a new bible, whose golden text was a summons to a
new revolution. The eighteenth century had pledged its faith to
universal democracy, and mankind was the People. Marx in the
nineteenth century read the emancipation of man in a new gospel. The
People are the producers, the workers--these are the beloved ones who
shall inherit the earth. All others, those who live off others' labor, the
exploiters, the parasites, who toil not neither do they spin, and yet rival
Solomon in all his glory--these must be excluded from the new
Kingdom of the People.

But there are those, and in many places, who are silently or
loudly proclaiming National Socialism as a world creed. The thought
should give us pause. What would be the world's dilemma if every
nation should find a Hitler, and all proclaimed his doctrine of race
superiority and the right of the strong to survive? If each nation is a
super-nation, and each race the elect, what will be the fate of
civilization? And one thing more--the paradox, do men gain freedom
by sacrificing freedom? There was a day, not long ago, when such
questions would have been as fantastic as Gilbert and Sullivan. Today
those who answer strike swiftly, armed with the new science and
mechanics. (237)

The gospel according to Karl Marx, a philosophical treatise

written in the manner of heavy German philosophy, remained for
nearly half a century as obscure as his master Hegel's treatise on the
state. Pious initiates there were to be sure, and fanatical, but the People
went on blithely unconscious until the war broke, and Lenin and
Trotsky attempted (239) a state patterned on the heavenly model. And
now the philosophies latent in Hegel and Marx are a byword. The
world has seen revolution on revolution. Communism and the
totalitarian state, fascism, these are words to conjure with and raise
angels and demons. Above all, the question, who are or what are, or
better, who is or what is, the People? Newspapers and politicians and
soldiers are attempting the answer: ink, perspiration, international illfeeling, rabid intolerance, and war are replacing the bland optimism of




mark. Shelley did the same thing in his Prometheus Unbound, when he
created the allegorical figures of Prometheus and Jupiter. It is
interesting as a comment on how faiths and optimisms have a perennial
habit of changing complexion, and the gods of yesterday are the devils
of today.

the late Victorian democracy--that Fool's Paradise as our new prophets

assure us.
Literature to be true must be revolutionary, so runs one
argument, and the revolutionary writer has come into his own. Shelley
was a rebel more than a hundred years ago, but became an exile for his
pains. Now it is fashionable to fancy oneself an exile, dream of a new
and purged Society of the People, be revolutionary in dress and style,
and to urge unceasingly the need of a return of literature to actuality
and life. Literature, not the plaything of the idle and exploiting few, but
wet nurse of the new spirit that shall create a new world.Literature and
revolution.Literature and propaganda. These are the people who 'do not
need to be convinced of the decay of capitalism.' They form leagues,
with officers and headquarters--an 'International Union of
Revolutionary Writers.' The phrase they most quote is the vague
coinage of Joseph Stalin himself, Socialist Realism. Their purpose is to
make the world conscious of the present social unrest--who isn't?--to
promote the cause of the worker, and by every means possible to hasten
the day of the downfall of Capitalism.There is an active ' League of
American Writers' affiliated with the International Union of
Revolutionary Writers--a union of writers, a curious reflection--as
though writing is a trade or profession. It has become such for many.
This is devoted to the Marxist theory of Literature. When was there a
theory of literature before? It has many most excellent writers enrolled,
and has a vitality and vigor quite unmistakable. And it has done much
that is worthy of all praise. There are those in it, too, who do not
subscribe to the phrase, literature as propaganda.(240)

These writers may not agree to what extent literature should be

used as a means toward the coming dictatorship of the proletariat; but
they are united on at least one common issue. To them writers for a
hundred years or more have not known 'what to think about life,' and
that this confusion about life and reality has paralyzed above all that
most supple and efficient form of literature, the novel.(In what follows
I am guided in some details by that interesting little volume by Ralph
Fox, The Novel and the People. But books of this kind are teeming
from the presses today--all of them interesting and a few quite
significant. See bibliography at the end).Life in the past hundred years
has been transformed by science until our mode of living today would
be as foreign to a farmer and even a city-dweller of the eighteenth
century as his age would be to a contemporary of Abraham. From a
people that were essentially rural we have suddenly become urban, and
even for those who live on it the soil has come to acquire a new
significance. The self-sufficient individual has disappeared with the
self-contained community. So that not only do people live in masses
hitherto undreamed of, but their(241)mutual dependence has become as
inescapable as that of a colony of bees. Yet in the face of this, so these
new gospellers argue, poetry and the novel have gone on plowing the
long- exhausted fields of the past. It is to the problems of the present
crisis that they must be recalled, the new relation of man to society, and
to create a new society where again man may feel at home.

It is interesting to reflect, in this day of the worship or damning

of phrases, how these words Capitalism, Labor, are personified and
made into living objects of veneration or execration. And how this
idea-worship is abetted by cartoons and concrete description. The
Hindu who invents an elaborate mythology to perpetuate the lively
image of his god has no more fertile an imagination than these new
idolators who deify one economic system and diabolize another. The
frenzy with which the attack is made, or the defense, has not a little in
common with an orgy of witch baitings. But all this is now beside the

For this, it is argued, the Marxian formula is quite specific and

must be accepted, the belief that the material mode of life determines
the intellectual. So Marx explains the course of history. And a literature
that fails to make explicit man's relation to his material background will
never reveal the whole man, will never know the nature of reality.
'Without Marxism, there is no approach to that essential truth which is
the chief concern of the writer.' Thus with one regal gesture the Marxist

Jules Romains is trying to discover in Men of Good Will. They have

been united by one common bond into a true community, that now acts
as one. The spirit that unites them is the spirit that breathes in and
animates each. It is all for one and one for all, not in the romantic sense
of a perfect friendship, when these words were the motto of The Three
Musketeers and animated their exploits. For in spite of their perfect
friendship the four perfect soldiers of Dumas's romance were romantics
and aristocratic individuals. Personal friendship may or may not play
its role, but there must be common consciousness of a common cause
and common effort for the attainment of the new order. And its symbol,
not romantic men of individual merit, but the hitherto undistinguished
common man, the drab worker.

sweeps away the airy cobwebs of the Hauptmanns, the Gides, the
Prousts, and the others whose concern is with the inner life of man. For
these dreamers the world does not exist. The noise and stench of blast
furnaces and sweat of reeking bodies, rather than the dreams of heretics
of Soana and the probings into memories of a recovered past--the noisy
present, the world of economics. These have come to be the theme of
the new and emancipated. This and a passionate desire to change reality
to a more human pattern.
They must help change the pattern. 'Our world is torn by a
historical struggle, and in that struggle Marxism, the outlook of the
class called by history to build a new world on the ruins of the old,
plays the part that humanism played in the building of the world that
replaced feudalism.' And of writers who have heard the call there have
been many in Europe and America, writers pledged to the faith and
touched with pity and filled with new enthusiasm. They have their
Marseillaise and their banner. They have the living example of Russia
to make doubt impossible. There have been plays and novels almost
without number. But the novel(242)is the more appropriate weapon
because of its larger elasticity and canvas. And more, the novel by its
very nature grew out of man's consciousness of some social or physical
discomfort, so they argue. For it is 'the epic of the struggle of the
individual against society, against nature, and it could only develop in a
society where the balance between man and society was lost, where
man was at war with his fellows or with nature. Such a society is
Capitalistic Society.' More and better novels, until, when the
millennium dawns, there will no longer be any need of them.

Such is the gospel of the new revolutionary writer, for he can

see no alternative. 'Faced with the ludicrous prospect of(243)a world in
which, so to speak, several Roman Empires are trying to expand at each
other's expense, there is still hope of a new civilization arising out of
the co-operation of man through communism. At one time, indeed, this
was no more than a pious hope, a matter of faith. Now we know it is to
be not only a practical possibility, but a historical necessity, unless the
human race is to relapse into barbarism' (From Philip Henderson, The
Novel Today. The new war gives these words a new meaning). And the
world today has had tragic examples of whole nations relapsing into
barbarism. Is this optimistic faith the only hope for a world now on the
edge of the abyss? But Shelley a hundred years ago was as optimistic
an individualist, and it is his faith that is now being rejected.
A people's literature with a people's consciousness, with its
conflicts with the adversary, that righteousness and the will of the
people may prevail and the earth be glad. How different this from the
old literature where it was only the individual's consciousness, they
argue, and the conflict of the single individual with an unfeeling
society. Such were the themes of even the very great, as Dostoevsky or
Tolstoi in Russia, filled with pity as they both were at the common
misery; or of Balzac or Thackeray, who found relief in a cultured
cynicism. 'Much modern literature is so unsatisfactory because it
proceeds from a spirit of petty rancor and bitterness in the author, who

The hero of the Marxist novel will not be any one person, nor
will the villain; but the people and its adversary. And the disappearance
of the hero of old romance and of the villain, the one the
personification of all the qualities that should endow the ideal
gentleman, the other the perfect model of turpitude, is quite in keeping
with the new obsession of the age and with Marxist philosophy. The
villain now is not an individual, but a system, the old epoch of
capitalistic exploiter of the worker and his oppressor. The people are
the hero and the heroine, for they are now that super- individual that

can never forgive the world for having made him suffer. It is not from
the desire to be revenged upon the world that great literature proceeds.
The revolutionary novel will only be an advance upon the
contemporary bourgeois novel, with all its shallow cynicism and subtle
metaphysical conflicts, in so far as it contributes to a greater
understanding of human relationships. It is, indeed, on the basis of a
new humanism that writers will restore to the novel that richness and
vigor and breadth of sympathy which characterize the finest
productions of the humanmind.'(Ibid.)(244)

whom the freedom of liberal democracy had been no more than a

mirage, the poor underdog worker, must be freed, not as an individual,
but in his corporate mass, as the People. Free him from the tyranny that
has oppressed him, give him in his corporate life the opportunity of
mass direction, free this latent will and benevolence, and presto, the
dream of poets and prophets will come true.(245)Then the human
wastage, the crime, the bitterness and class hatreds, even international
hatreds, will be no more. Justice, social justice, and the will of the
People will prevail.

And here we have it, the full triumph of communism as a

universal militant creed will restore to literature the glories of the
golden age.

The example of a Russia where the experiment of twenty years

has produced a literature worthy of note is pointed to with encouraging
pride. In that country novelists and dramatists and poets, as artists of all
kinds, are no accidental gift of a careless Providence, but fostered and
even petted, and grouped into unions by the benevolent state. The state
with paternal care looks after their nourishment and sees to it that no
obnoxious weeds shall grow on their Parnassus, which might poison
the imagination. And there have been artists and poets, novelists and
dramatists who have gathered appropriate fame not only in their own
land, but whose works have been best sellers or near best in many
countries of contemporary Europe. One such, and to me the most
significant, is the yet young novelist Sholokhov.

I think the difference in points of view between the orthodox

nineteenth century with its creed of liberalism and the orthodox
Marxian with its creed of communism needs to be stressed even at the
cost of some repetition. Both seek the banishment of fear, and both
seek freedom. But they look for it in quite opposite directions.
Whitman, perhaps the most vociferous if not the sweetest of
liberalizing poets, with a cosmic gesture 'henceforth ordains himself
free of all limits and imaginary lines.' A revolutionist to the core in his
youth, he stands convinced of the eternal worth and self-sufficiency of
the individual and his needs and aspirations. So also Emerson writes his
magnificent eulogy on Self-Reliance. Each individual is a continent or a
star and the glory of the creator is reflected in his cosmic dance of pure
freedom--man freed from fear by the strengthening of his faith in

With Sholokhov we have the thing vaguely adumbrated by that

phrase 'Socialist Realism.' But it is interesting to comment that as his
work matures there is in it less and less of the obvious propaganda for
the worker and the Soviet State than there was in his earlier efforts, and
above all in the work of his lesser contemporaries. And Quiet Flows the
Don and even Seeds of Tomorrow (or, as it is better translated and
better known in England, Broken Earth), though written obviously by a
member of the Soviet party, are never crude in the effort to inculcate
Soviet doctrine. They never caricature its opponents, but on the
contrary are severely sympathetic to adversaries even when the cause
of the revolution is at stake. So far they are not militantly 'socialist.'
And as for 'realism,' one can judge by the sequel.

But this freedom, to the Marxian, as well as to the advocate of

any totalitarianism, leads to individual excesses on the part of the
unscrupulous and more cunning, and we have the evils of capitalism.
For, again to the Marxian, the economic motive is the dominant one in
the interpretation of history. And we have the spectacle of Europe at
the beginning of the twentieth century and the Great War. So the
release from one fear led, for some, to a far greater, and the devil cast
out by liberal democracy returned with seven others. Now those to

All this is as it should be. For art can never be directed to mere
propaganda. For propaganda is a machine-made thing, excellent or
sinister, has the conscious purpose of an imposed creed, and can so
easily be imposed from without even upon(246)a reluctant mind. The
very essence of art is complete freedom of the imagination to follow its
own inner promptings and sympathies. Like the essence latent in the
germ plasm, it has a life, unique and quite its own, and too much
interference from even the most sympathetic can lead only to its
distortion or death. Milton and Dante both began poems dedicated to
their ideal of Christian propaganda; but both at times achieved works of
art even at variance with their original design. So did Sholokhov with
his two interesting and instructive novels. They are no more
propaganda than Zola Le Dbcle, and no less, and in some ways more
intimately realistic. 'Realistic'--take these two paragraphs, both from
And Quiet Flows the Don. The one describes the taste and smell of
early spring. The other is a forlorn attempt at suicide by a half-crazed

her she slashed her throat with its point. She fell as though struck down
before the burning, savage pain, and feeling, mournfully realising that
she had not completely carried out her intention, she struggled on to
all-fours, then on to her(247)knees. Hurriedly (she was terrified by the
blood pouring over her chest) with trembling fingers she tore off the
buttons of her jacket, and with one hand she drew aside her taut,
unyielding breast, with the other she guided the point of the scythe over
the floor. She crawled on her knees to the earthen wall, thrust the blunt
end of the scythe blade into it, and throwing her arms above her head,
pressed her chest firmly forward, forward . . . She clearly heard and felt
the resisting, cabbage-like scrunch of the rending flesh; a rising wave
of intense pain flowed over her breast to her throat, and pressed with
ringing needles into her cars . . .
Here is the difference between realism of, say a trained Zola,
and a naive realism of a son of the soil he so intimately describes. Zola
is the scientific journalist describing vividly what he sees. Only at rare
intervals does his imagination pass over and become part of the scene.
Sholokhov is the native, a peasant brought up from infancy in the North
Caucasus, a Cossack villager, the participator in the actions he so
movingly pictures in writing with a pen dipped in his own blood. His
horizon is limited unlike that of the international journalist, but within
it he cannot be surpassed, and, except by Gorky and Dostoevsky, rarely
equalled even by the masters of Russian realism. He is 'socialist.' For
he was a spectator of the part Russia played in the Great War. He saw
and understood the two revolutions: the first which broke the Russian
autocracy and set up the first socialist republic under Kerensky, then
the Bolshevist revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky which set up the
present Union of Soviet States. He saw, too, all of the counterrevolution of the Whites until all opposition had been suppressed and
Russia was made comparatively safe for communism. Then came his
experiences, still in his native Cossack villages, with the efforts of the
leaders of the Soviet Union to regain the power and the efficiency of
the old regime; the effort at co-operative farming, the expulsion of the
Kulaks, the relatively wealthy individual farmers, and the five year
plan. By then he had written his first descriptive sketches and his first
great novel,(248)And Quiet Flows the Don. He became famous first in

But above the blood-soaked White Russia the stars wept

mournfully. The nocturnal darkness yawned smokily and fluidly. The
wind fawned on the earth, saturated with the scent of fallen leaves, of
damp, clayey mouldiness, of March snows.
Stumbling over the uneven stones, followed by a shameful,
filthy whisper, she reached the church porch. The girls standing in the
porch giggled as she turned and made her way to the farther gate.
Swaying drunkenly, she ran home. At the yard gate she took breath and
then entered, stumbling over the hem of her skirt, biting her lips till the
blood came. Through the lilac darkness the open doorway of the shed
yawned blackly. With evil determination she gathered her last strength,
ran to the door and hastily stepped across the threshold. The shed was
dry and cold, smelling of leather harness and long-lying straw.
Gropingly, without thought or feeling, in a sombre yearning which
scratched at her shamed and despairing soul, she made her way to a
corner. There she picked up a scythe by the handle, removed the blade
(her movements were deliberately assured and precise), and throwing
back her head, with all the force and joyous resolution that possessed

Russia, and was acclaimed by Gorky as the type of Socialist writer the
nation needed. For his sympathies are with the cause he had fought for,
and he catches the spirit of enthusiasm that fired the miscellaneous
peasants and riders of the steppes and made of them a People. The
mood can be lyrical, as in the passage that opens this chapter.

made an embodiment of all the unsocialistic vices. He becomes the

secret guest of Yakov Ostrovnov, called Lukich, who in many ways is
the most interesting character in the novel. Lukich is a most successful
farmer; from one nearly destitute at the redistribution of the land, he
has shown his native ability and resourcefulness and is growing rich
and prosperous. He, with his excellent individualism, secretly longs for
the old days, when such power as his could make itself secure. But he
can't throw in his lot whole-souled with the counter-revolutionists; for
when the experiment of collective farming is once begun, because of
his innate ability, he is put in charge of all the field operations. He
becomes manager, and as he watches the infant social industry grow is
filled with paternal pride. The natural leader, even under a hated
institution, he finds his talent recognized, so he makes himself a place
even against his instinct, for the glory of communism and its increase.

Perhaps for the sake of clearness it may be better to begin with

his lesser known but later work. It has fewer lines and its purpose can
be summarized more easily, The Seeds of Tomorrow. It is the story of
how the five year plan came to a small Cossack village in the North
Caucasus, Gremyachy Log, and the effort to induce the villagers,
individualists all of them at first, to adopt the new role of collective
farmers. One must remember the hunger of the Russian peasant for
land, and how the first and second revolutions were made possible by
the farmers' appropriation of the land of the old landlords. One must
remember the restless individualism of the Cossack, a free rider from
time immemorial, and for centuries the bulwark of the throne. One
must remember his age-long conservatism, in all matters including
farming. Into this little self-contained, self-satisfied, and proud
community comes the news of the new effort for the good of a
community far beyond their borders and to them foreigners and
despised; it comes like a bursting shell, bringing dismay, bitterness, and
even active hostility. Yet in the end the scheme succeeds, because it is
socialistic, for the people. All this is journalism written feelingly from
within, a perfect transcript of one effort made among thousands for the
common good, the education of an undistinguished village in the
meaning of socialism. All the characters for such an intimate little
drama are there; and because the community is small and each
neighbor knows all there is to know of the neighbors, it is an intimate
drama, and cannot be otherwise than sympathetic to the writer's
imagination. His own experiences are all there.(249)

Then there is Davidov, the chairman of the collective farm, a

true-blue soviet organizer. He had in the old days been a mechanic, a
true proletarian of the city industry, now turned loose to organize
farmers in what is to him an utterly foreign mode of life and thought.
Even the language of the fields and woods to this man of the factory
and tenements is foreign. Here we have a chance again for character
distortion, as with the White enemy of the People. But his enthusiasm
is real. He has his moments even of despondency; he is resourceful, he
knows human nature. He can speak the word in season that will
strengthen the wavering. It is to his sleepless care and his humane
understanding of when to be severe and when to slacken discipline that
the whole plan(250)owes its success, success even beyond hope. Other
soviet officials are less enthusiastically described. The president of the
local soviet, with his unfortunate domestic history; the violent and
utterly ill-advised Nagulnov, the secretary of the local soviet, who
would have wrecked the whole scheme by his enthusiastic ill-temper.

We are first introduced to Polovtsief, a White aristocrat,

engaged in an effort in this one-time stronghold of Czarist imperialism
to start a counter-revolution. To be sure he is not an attractive figure,
rude, offensive, and drunken; but he is not inhuman, and though he
fails miserably, he is not, as in so much Soviet caricature of the Whites,

There is the Kulak Borodin and his errant son. Here the evident
human sympathy of the author breaks into pity for the misfortune of
both. Borodin is no villain, but a good neighbor, and his effort to save
his well-won property, when all is being confiscated for the state,
deserves pity. Even the enthusiasts break into tears over the old man's

fate. But Davidov, who has just told of the misery of his childhood and
his mother who sold herself for her children, stops them: 'You think it
is a pity we're cleaning out the Kulak families? Think again! We're
cleaning them out so they shan't prevent our organizing a life without
any of those . . . So it shan't happen again in the future.' There is
tragedy, there is comedy; and there is pure pathos. The comic old man,
a chronic liar, Sheherkar, and his advice that in the interest of
efficiency the women hatch the eggs. Then these words from the
idealist Kondrat, who had given up his only horse:

All this reads, when described as it is here, as an example of the

uplift novel once so popular; or the roman thse. And it is, but with a
sharp difference, because the events, trifling as most of them are when
seen separately, in the mass are the history of contemporary Russia.
There were thousands of Gremyachy Logs, and there must have been
thousands of Davidovs, too, or the story of the half generation since the
five year plan was broached would have been a different story and the
wrecker might have prevailed. It is the realist that keeps the
propagandist socialist within bounds. The pure uplift story, though its
moral may be no more obvious, rarely keeps its feet so securely planted
on the ground. This book is a contribution to history not unlike the
diary of some private soldier.

How will things go in the collective farms? Do they all feel and
see as I see that this is the only way, that there can be no turning back?
That no matter how painful it is to hand over to strangers the lean
animal that has grown up with the family on the earthen floor of the
hut, yet it has to be done. But when I reach my own horse, I begin to
choke, and then he seems dearer to me than my own wife. And I still
try to give him sweeter, finer grass. And others are just the same: each
pines after his own horse-- Yet there aren't any 'others' now, they're all

I have gone rather fully into the plan of this lesser of

Sholokhov's two novels, because it illustrates better than any definition
can do what the new revolutionary writer means by the phrase 'Socialist
Realism.' Here we have the story in Seeds of Tomorrow of one of the
later crises of the Soviet Union, an important episode, and yet an
episode. His other novel, And Quiet Flows the Don, is the epic of the
War, the Revolutions, first and second, and of the futile counterrevolution that serves as a fitting postlude. The quiet days
before(252)the war, with the life of the little village that is the hero, is
the Prelude. But what a different epic from Homer's story of Troy or
even Tolstoi War and Peace, which is the story of another of Russia's
great struggles. For again this novel is dominated by the same desire as
Seeds of Tomorrow, to tell of the struggles of momentous years and the
triumph of socialism, and yet to keep scrupulously within the bounds of

All the various devices that were tried to bring people to work
on the common farm as enthusiastically as once they did on their own
are here described. Persuasion and threats had proved of no avail, so at
last youthful propagandist columns are imported, traveling bands of
enthusiastic youth, to(251)show how to work under the new regime.
They turn over an incredible number of furrows in a day, and for shame
the farmers come back, and the enthusiasm is infectious. There are riots
and fights for grain, and burnings. Davidov sleeplessly plans and
encourages, he is everywhere. The value of belonging to the party is
held up as a singular favor, as we see the despair of Nagulnov when he
is expelled. And last we see the reason for the failure of the White
conspiracy. For moderate counsels prevail, and those who were
reluctant to join the new collectives were given an extension on their
individually held properties. Besides, though enemies of the new day,
they were Russians and loved Russia. 'The Communists are our own
people, they're Russians like us.'

If the story of Seeds of Tomorrow is how the five year plan and
the communal farm came to a little North Caucasus village, the theme
of And Quiet Flows the Don is the story of how the war and the
Revolution came to a little village of the Don Cossacks. There is no
hero but the little village community, there are no moving accidents,
but the little details of farm life or soldier life, as the Cossack farmer or
the Cossack soldier or the Cossack farmer's wife or his mistress were
swept by the tide of fire and sword out of the peaceful life of the

steppes into the dismay or enthusiasm of the new order. There is no

hero as in Homer or Tolstoi, there is none of the magnificent trappings
of the usual epic, descriptions of battles, sieges, famines, and burnings,
that make up the orthodox novel of history. We catch no glimpses
behind the scenes of what went on in the minds of generals or
statesmen, only the little reactions to the events in the minds of simple
Cossacks. We rarely see a general and never a statesman--what private
soldier does? But we have with utmost realism the barrack-room
chatter and the agony of the spent soldier awaiting death. Even the last
struggles of the dying are not spared us. Here is the picture of the war
as the soldier saw it, as his wife in her little hut, abandoned now by her
man, felt it, the utter loneliness.

wasthe chief support of the Empire and the Czar. When the revolution
first came it was to them that the aristocrats looked for their salvation.
Their atamans were their semi-feudal overlords, and the relation
between ataman and Cossack had a freedom to be found nowhere else
in all Europe. Here then were a people as far in spirit from Marx's ideal
proletarian as could well be imagined, and as unready for a social
revolution in which they must lose something of their freedom. The last
place in the world where one would look for the success of Marxist
doctrine would be here.
It is the greatness of this novel that it describes the gradual
stages by which this people was prepared for the revolutionary change
in their outlook and mode of life. It took the Great War to bring about
the transformation of a people, the psychological changes gradually
taking place under the pressure of events, privations, cruelties, bloodlust, and animal lust(254), war, revolution, civil war, and counterrevolution, it took all this to transform the Cossack unthinking
cavalryman into a revolutionary patriot. The book makes the process
clear and convincing. But it does justice at the same time to those who
could not or would not change. The adversaries who tried to strangle
the new Bolshevism at its birth are not described as White villains.
They are the same breed of plainsmen, and often quite as admirable in
their generous self-sacrifice.

Tear the collar of your last shirt at your throat, dear heart! Tear
the hair of your head, thin with your joyless, heavy life; bite your lips
till the blood comes; wring your work-scarred hands and beat yourself
against the floor on the threshold of your empty hut! The master is
missing from your hut, your husband (253)is missing, your children are
fatherless; and remember that no-one will caress you or your orphans,
no-one will press your head to his breast at night, when you drop worn
out with weariness; and no-one will say to you as once he said: 'Don't
worry, Aniska, we'll manage somehow!' You will not get another
husband, for labour, anxieties, children have withered you and lined
you. No father will come for your half-naked, snivelling children. You
yourself will have to do all the plowing, the dragging, panting with the
over-great strain. You will have to pitchfork the sheaves from the
reaper, to throw them on to the wagon, to raise the heavy bundles of
wheat on the pitchfork, feeling the while that something is rending
beneath your belly. And afterwards you will writhe with pain, covering
yourself with your rags and issuing with blood.

An epic of the annals of a community--there has been little like

it since Manzoni wrote his prose epic, The Betrothed. The heroes are
the hundreds, men and women, old and young, soldiers and stay-athomes, of the little villages of the Don. We have scenes of fishing, of
courtship, of marriage and separation, seed-time and harvest, life in the
streets, shops and taverns, the little well-to-do, the alamans, the downand- out, all this and then the scenes of violence of the war and the
scenes of abandon beyond the lines and in rest billets. It is a sum of all
the mixed emotions and motives that made up a people's life during
five or six ominous years. There are no large national issues, only the
sum of the little ones that go to give complexion and worth to a village,
at peace and at war. It isn't all Russia that passes in review, as in

These Cossacks and their old freedom-loving life, a life that

Sholokhov himself knew from within. They were not peasants but a
semi-nomadic, free people, loving the life of the steppes, and
cultivating the spirit of self-respect and democracy. They were the
bulwark of Russia against the Tartars, and tradition and myth is full of
their exploits; hard riders, hard fighters, their cavalry for centuries

Tolstoi War and Peace, but a forgotten fragment of Russia; yet how
much more detail there is to the panorama. It is stark realism.

an animal unless it's necessary, but destroy man! He's a heathen,

unclean; he poisons the earth; his life is like a toadstool!'

The novel falls into four divisions: Peace, the days and months
that preceded the war, the uneventful life of the village that gives us a
view of its inhabitants, undisturbed yet by any events from outside,
following the routine of the seasons, and against this their little
personal dramas. War. Suddenly there are rumors, neighbors gather to
discuss the news that comes from the world without, there is the call to
the colors, and the young conscripts march away for the conflict that
they neither understand nor desire to understand.(255)

To the historian the revolution was a thing preceded by a

number of causes, definite and to be catalogued. The soldier in the
revolution had no such clear-cut ideas. To him the revolution was an
incident, led up to by a succession of insignificant incidents, until he
was scarcely aware that revolution is a mortal crisis in history. Such is
Sholokhov's third section, Revolution. The little conversations that led
up to it, each apparently aimless, and each duplicated a million times as
soldiers met and conversed.(256)

The stay-at-homes pick up the thread where the soldiers had

dropped it. We have now the double panorama: the life at the front, and
what passes for life for these left behind. Never has anything been
written so successfully of the meaninglessness of war to the average
private soldier as in this book that never pauses to comment, but
describes only the soldier's state of mind. Take this comment on a
soldier's experience of killing his first man:

'One moment, Listnitskyl Bunchuk, listen! Let us admit that this

war will be transformed into a civil war. But then what? You'll
overthrow the monarchy. But what sort of government do you
propose to set up in its place?'
'The government of the working class.'
'A Parliament, do you mean?'

After his first battle Gregor Melekhov was tormented by a

dreary inward pain. He grew noticeably thin, lost weight, and
frequently, whether attacking or resting, sleeping or waking, he saw the
features and form of the Austrian whom he had killed by the railings. In
his sleep he lived again and again through that first battle, and even felt
the shuddering convulsion of his right hand clutching the lance. He
would awake and drive the dream off violently, shading his painfully
screwed-up eyes with his hand.

'Hardlyl' Bunchuk smiled.

'Well, what then?'
'A workers' dictatorship.'
'Now we've got it! But the intelligentsia, the peasantry? What
part will they play?'

Or this as soldiers speak during pauses in the conflict:

'The peasantry will follow us, and part of the intelligentsia also.
The others . . . this is what we shall do with the others.' With a
swift movement he screwed up a paper in his hand, and threw it
away, saying through his teeth: 'That's what we'll do with them!'

'. . . This is the way!' Uriupin instructed him. 'Cut a man down
boldly! Man is as soft as butter! Don't think about the why and
the wherefore. You're a cossack, and it's your business to cut
down without asking questions. To kill your enemy in battle is a
holy work. For every man you kill God will wipe out one of
your sins, just as he does for killing a serpent. You mustn't kill

And then the last, Civil War, when Russian fought Russian until
the victory of Marxian Communism was complete. Again, as in the two

preceding sections, we have the apparent aimlessness of the events, as

they struck the common soldier. Few had the sharpness of vision of the
machine-gunner Bunchuk, who from the beginning of the war saw into
the future and made himself master of the gun that he might in the end
turn it against his true adversary. Most joined movements because their
fellows did: some because they were now officers of rank in the new
regime without being quite conscious what it was all about.

narrower. The gifted French author, with his knowledge of the whole of
the life of Paris and of France, is able in that vaster epic to find a place
for both aristocrat and proletarian and all the confused and broken
strata between. Sholokhov's people are all rural, and this, because
Russia is even today so overwhelmingly rural, is perfectly intelligible
and proper. There is one further thought. Sholokhov's two novels fail to
tell us how the idea first of the revolution then of its later design came
to the whole of Russia. At best therefore it is a partial epic, the epic of
rural Russia; whereas Romains's book when it is complete has the
design of being the epic of contemporary France.

But as one reads incident after incident, in spite of what first

appears aimless, gradually one feels the unfolding of a great idea, the
idea of the new Russia. It is this idea that is the hero of the epic tale.
The old life in Part I had been without aim, animal and selfish. There
were no communal motives, and the squirming life of the village where
lust, love, greed, generosity, strove without thought or direction, is the
soil upon which the new seed is to be sown. It took war to sow it, war
with its filth and cruelty, and the questioning that would come when
soldiers would lie afield at night, the painful birth of the new idea. It
grew and bore fruit(257)in the revolution, and though each individual
revolutionary soldier might not know more than a pittance of its
meaning, in the aggregate of revolutionary soldiers the idea came to
full maturity and power. It sweeps away every opposition and
enthusiastically, though crudely, finds its name and place. But every
latent opposition to the new idea must be withstood and annihilated,
until it may have full scope for its manifest destiny. Hence the epilogue
of the Civil War, for there can be no peace until Russia is made safe for
the new doctrine. Such is the scope and dramatic movement of this
People's epic.Since this has been in the press a sequel to this novel has
appeared, The Don Flows Home to the Sea. It is the story of the most
important of the characters in its predecessor, Gregor Melekhov, in the
revolt of the Cossacks against the Soviet regime. There is in it all the
power in the predecessor. But something is lacking. The novel has a
hero, and it is always his story. He is an untamed individualist. The
story ends when alone and without hope he returns, a fugitive, to his
village. This novel is far closer to the old tradition of the novel.

What is of further and higher significance is that it differs

scarcely at all from the works of art produced by the much- to-becondemned bourgeoisie. His sympathy never allows him to be more
severe with the enemies of the true faith(258)than Homer was with the
enemies of the Greeks. Read a century hence, as the novel And Quiet
Flows the Don may be, it will require a historian to pick out the threads
of propaganda, and this is a long cry from the devotion to a class war
that the revolutionary writers' creed seems to require. As the later
Tolstoi in reviewing the work of his youth and mature manhood
condemned Anna Karenina because it did not square with his later
views of art, so the consistent Communist in theory must see much that
is lacking in Sholokhov's novels, and sadly shake his head over the
inveterate tradition of art that even fifteen years of a Soviet regime
cannot undo.
But to us, on the other hand, may come the exhilaration of
realizing the impossibility of ever fettering the human imagination.
There have been many who have expressed the fear that in the perfect
organization of the perfect state the imagination is ultimately
smothered. Aldous Huxley has pictured this human abyss in his Brave
New World. There are prophets, even those who are sympathizing
Communists, who shake their heads anxiously. It is well enough for a
Sholokhov, they say, whose early imagination had the freedom of an
earlier regime that produced Tolstoi, Dostoevsky, Turgenev, and
Gorky. He had them for background. But the young whose background
is the new education aimed expressly to produce perfect citizens of the

But this is in no way different from the theme of Jules

Romains's Men of Good Will, except that its social scope is much

new state, what of them who have never known any other? Everything
else can be organized, education, higher studies, associations, social
conditions, but if the creative spirit is offered violence 'it avenges itself
with mediocrity.' Is this a danger that lurks for the future when the new
revolutionists get their dream of the perfect state?

dictators armed with the latest equipment of biology and psychology,

may be left to the future. Past history gives little encouragement to
either answer.(260)

They might well give the same answer as the director of the
Brave New World, that in such a state art is a quite unnecessary luxury.
And the votaries of art are left even without a question.



'The eyes are not here

There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms.'

Andr Gide, professed Communist, but much more confirmed

(259)artist, is appalled at the very real danger of the effort at
uniformity. To him the advice of one of its officers was full of
foreboding: 'What we want nowadays are works everyone can
understand, and understand immediately . . . An artist in our country
must first of all keep in line.' Precisely, keep in line. But can art
conform? Does even Sholokhov or Gorky conform always? After the
first enthusiasm of creating a new world, will not the artist nearly
always take new thought and discover within himself the seeds of
future opposition. But, 'what will happen if the transformation of the
social state deprives the artist of all motives for opposition?'


'Who is the third who walks always beside you?
When I count, there are only you and I together
But when I look ahead up the white road
There is always another one walking beside you
Gliding wrapt in a brown mantle, hooded
I do not know whether a man or a woman
--But who is that on the other side of you?'

One wonders, and again I quote Gide: 'Humanity is not uniform, we

must make up our minds to that; and any attempt to simplify, to unify,
to reduce it from the outside will always be odious, ruinous, and
disastrously grotesque'(Nouveatix Prtextes).Isn't this an argument that
there can never be perfect communist art? The alternative is too
unpleasant to contemplate, even for Gide. 'If the mind is obliged to
obey a word of command, it can at any rate feel that it is not free. But if
it has been so manipulated beforehand that it obeys without even
waiting for the word of command, it loses even the consciousness of its
enslavement.' True, but it is also true that it is not only in the
Communist State of Russia where such things may happen. It may be
blind folly to assert that it can't happen here. Whether these gloomy
predictions shall be justified by the event, or on the other hand, whether
human nature by its long and varied experience has made any effort at
perfect standardization and perfect routine too difficult even for


ONE OF the most significant chapters in Jules Romains Men of
Good Will has the title 'In Search of a Church.' In the good old days of
the Middle Ages men built churches to keep out fear. The world was
evil, diabolic in its ugliness--and the history of that day left little room
for the saving graces--and doubly sinister in its beauty, for the lure of
the senses was of the devil's design, and woe to him who abandoned his
soul for their gratification. So men built churches, staunch edifices,
proof against time as the heaven- guarded soul, and adorned with
beauty to recall the unearthly splendor of paradise. These castles of the
soul were the cities of refuge for periodic flight from the unseemliness
of things as they are, as redoubtable as the castles and walled cities of

refuge for the body. Dante's great poem closes with the cosmic
panorama of the rose of the church, everlasting(261)and beautiful
beyond mortal words--rank on rank, range on range of the fragrant
petals of saints triumphant, basking now, loosed from all fear, in the
radiance of infinite and eternal Truth.

the needs of a world that again feels itself raw and new and tragically
In consequence these last years have seen a revival of interest in
the philosophy and theology, as well as the poetry, of the Middle Ages
that is quite beyond the interest of mere history or philosophy. Schools
have devoted themselves to a restudy and revaluation of the once
despised old Christian Fathers, Augustine, Bonaventura, Duns Scotus,
and above all the Angelic Doctor, Thomas Aquinas; not that they may
read the old speculations aright, but that these may be retested and
restated in the light of today, and our wayward and bewildered world
once again may be offered the path to salvation. It is a call back to the
Christian tradition, very different from the romantic revival of the
religion, let us say of John Wesley, in the eighteenth, or later in the
nineteenth century, with its emphasis on man's personal relation to
God, the Inner Voice, and the ecstasy of conversion. On the contrary,
this path follows the less picturesque and pedestrian lowlands of
syllogism and demonstrable proof. It is far more concerned with right
thinking than with right feeling, for it is convinced first and foremost
that the human propensity to error in thought must first be put to a
severe schooling. And again in this the new movement is perfectly in
line with the argument of the Middle Ages.More than once in the
Inferno Dante makes it clear that the neglect of reason was the cause of
the eternal woe. They were the lost people, lost because they have lost
'the good of the understanding.'

Yes, life in the Middle Ages, in spite of pestilence and war, was
happy, happy for it had within its faith a freedom from fear; and in that
happiness built the churches and founded the Tradition. And, that the
tale be complete, cleverly and dexterously as a master craftsman, it
gave living form to a philosophy which should be equally absolute, as
its ultimate justification before God and Man. Tradition, Philosophy,
Church, three in one, to give freedom and instruction and salvation to a
world else enslaved, blind, and doomed. The centuries that followed
questioned, scoffed at, and often seemed on the point of wrecking
forever this magnificent edifice. Lust of the flesh was always its
enemy; but slowly, as time passed, the new science, lust of the intellect,
seemed to contradict its very foundations, and never so much as in
these our own decades, until there were many who wrote its epitaph,
and reckoned the Christian tradition as one more effort, like Buddha or
Islam, to compass the impossible, and read meaning and worth into
things that are in themselves devoid of both.
Yet this very denial has in it the elements of man's bitterest
tragedy. There have been many who have pressed the issue. Either life
is full of meaning and value, or the whole story of man from its dawn is
an ironic jest. If, as our deepest instinct seems to crave, there is in it
something more than the fortuitous and irrelevant, then there must be
some absolute meaning in the long story of the unfolding human
tradition. And as that tradition received its richest gifts from the
Greeks, and later from the philosophers, poets, and artists of the Middle
Ages and after, perhaps again the human miracle may be achieved, and
humanity in its contemporary need, be again loosed from the clutch of
evil and fear. There are many who to avoid the bitterness of tragedy
demand a(262)return to tradition and faith. Search for a Church, but
one suited, with the advance in knowledge since the Middle Ages, to

It would be interesting to follow the thought of the neoThomists in some detail. Their leaders, like Maritain and Gilso n, have
made an epoch in modern philosophy. But this is not the place to
discuss philosophy or metaphysics and their connection with ethics. It
is the effect of this new school of thought on creative literature that is
of prime significance; and this effect has been enormous. For in more
than one(263)country in Europe today it is true, as Andr Berge
asserted of France, that young men, who a half generation ago would
have prided themselves on their disbelief of any of the traditions of
religion, today in increasing numbers are returning to the traditional
church. The same thing is happening in England; and one may notice

its beginning in America. There is, and the movement is slowly

acquiring speed, a return to the church. For in its beliefs, and in the
logic of its creeds and their postulates, there is the promise of security
and freedom from fear; so the argument runs, a new-old gospel for a
world again in mortal peril.

evil world; the other is steep and arduous, and requires the complete
transformation of man's intelligence and will in the ascending circles of
discipline. How different this from the easy creed of the romantic
nineteenth century, the active belief that man is by nature good, and the
state of human blessedness can be achieved only by unchaining the
instincts of nature with which all are endowed, and by listening to their
still, small, and inner voice. It is interesting and greatly significant how
more and more to these new Catholics, and a hord of others, Dante
becomes the poet of the age and his Inferno the spiritual allegory of
today's confusion. Its cure must be discovered in a new Purgatory. But,
and perhaps because this revived faith is yet young and unfledged, the
full experience of an achieved Paradise is yet denied, though some
have seen the rosy fingers of its anticipated dawn.

For the axioms and postulates of traditional Christianity, like

the threads that make a pattern, lie closest to the needs of the human
heart. And as without axioms there can be no geometry, without these
unquestioned Christian acceptances there can be no right thinking
about human destiny. One does not accept these as a faith that is to
serve as a superstructure to science and philosophy; one accepts them
in order that there might be a better and more human science and
philosophy. For without them science and philosophy lack meaning and
plan and even value. The first and fundamental axiom is that there is
meaning in the world and some end toward which all creation moves.
The world then is not a cosmically irrelevant and fortuitous congeries
of electrons, protons, and neutrons, as unaided science is compelled to
assert. Then there is the axiom of a cosmic dignity and worth that
willy-nilly clings to every individual, human worth and human dignity
in the panorama of this created universe. Next, that love and
understanding when loosed from error are one--how this reminds of
Dante. It is only the disabled intellect, or the mired heart, that sees them
separate and at times in conflict. And finally that without these
fundamental axioms all life and all nature are reduced to a meaningless
puzzle, and human nature to a futile gesture. Simple, superbly simple,
and yet how thorough-going and all embracing.Yet how all of them are
beyond the reach(264)of the most daring speculator armed only with
the human instrument, reason. For these axioms are supernatural
revelations--they did not come by chance--revelations to the end that
humanity might put aside fear and arrive at salvation (The discerning
reader will see at once that I have translated rather freely the usual
theological wording of these axioms. See Etienne Gilson on this theme
in his admirable Spirit of the Medival Philosophy).

In one way it is unfair to class T. S. Eliot among the neoCatholics. It might be more appropriate to select one of their foremost
writers in French, Maritain for example. For Eliot is an Anglo-Catholic,
and to some there is a world of difference. But so far as fundamental
beliefs are concerned, the schism from Rome is almost an irrelevancy,
and the differences are geographical, political, and liturgical, affecting
only particulars of creed and philosophy. Like the new Catholics Eliot
sees that the evils of the world are due to the deeply ingrained habit of
lust after strange gods, and that(265)these evils can be cured only by
right religious beliefs. In other words there can be no improvement in
morals until the world is set right by a true theology and philosophy,
two sciences, but also one and inseparable.
Frankly it is hard for the beginner, with the best will in the
world and no little poetic background, to read the poetry of T. S. Eliot.
He is hard, deliberately obscuring his thought, even at times to the
extent of perversity. For he has no patience with the reader who comes
to poetry as a pastime or a relaxation, as to the fragrance of coffee and
cigarettes after a meal. He requires work, a complete absorption in the
poem and the context, and a pursuit through a labyrinth of phrase and
allusion. He carries the weight of the tradition of European poetry from
the days of the Greeks; and a chance phrase, redolent of Homer, Dante,
or Baudelaire, must be savored, not alone as part of the poem in hand,

They are the theme of Dante: Salvation and Damnation. The

one is easy and natural to the fallen state of man in a remorseless and

distilled into poetry, is the effort of Eliot The Waste Land and The
Hollow Men. These are the images, these are the associations, these are
the ideas that we feel, you and I, if we are keen enough and gifted with
imagination. These are the broken rhythms, minglings of the stately and
melodious old with the abrupt and discordant new, as we live in the
confused jar and turmoil of contemporary urban life. Relevant and
apparently irrelevant, beauty and grotesque ugliness, sweetness and
stench of bitterness, all these tread on each others' toes, in this swiftly
moving kaleidoscope of contemporary poetry. In these as in Gerontion
and Prufrock Eliot is one of the most contemporary of contemporary

but also in memory as the melodic richness of an old theme sounding

its ghostly undertone of ideas in the new refrain. Unless the reader's ear
is exceeding fine to catch this larger symphony, suggested and guessed
only, he fails to read aright what on the printed page seems simple and
downright. T. S. Eliot has perhaps gone farther than any of the moderns
in English to explore the witchery of allusive words and make them do
service in the cause of poetry.
More than this--his poems seem to be in the process of
becoming poetry, where 'free associations' are being formed, sans logic,
sans design, to which the poet later should give logic and design in a
finished poem. In The Hollow Men, for example, we see image, quite
without conscious reason, from the depths of the subconscious, as it
were, calling up image, as one bell set to ringing sets all others that
may be in tune to hum to spontaneous music; and echo calls up echo
from still greater distance. The reader must lend himself to this 'free
association,' asking neither why nor how. Thus in this poem are
mingled 'memory and despair,' the(266)poignancy of futile memory
with all its suggested images and the poignancy of despair. And, in this
case, to anyone who has never feelingly read The Divine Comedy, and
above all The Inferno, that monument to memory and despair, The
Hollow Men will always be in part an unintelligible and wayward maze
of irreconcilables. T. S. Eliot is confessedly difficult if one wants to
find in him the orderliness of image and association that one finds, for
example, in Keats.

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats' feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar. . . .
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind's singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.

But T. S. Eliot, great as is his debt to tradition, is a

contemporary poet. And contemporary life is not orderly. We are
reminded more than once of the difficulties in Shakespeare's sonnets,
where the poems grew out of great perplexities and invite a varied
gloss. Again, Eliot is an urban poet. The old poetry, English and
European, except Dante, was primarily rural. Wordsworth and Shelley
and Keats, oppressed by the weight of contemporary urban life and its
ugliness, fled to the fields of Westmorland or to their fancy. The
contemporary poets--there are many exceptions--as well as the
novelists, strive to catch the confusion that is the contemporary urban
mind. This is the effort in Joyce Ulysses; but much better, for it is

Like the others whom we have glanced at in these chapters,

Eliot, in despair at the meaningless grotesqueness and ugliness and
death in contemporary life, is in search for some new motive that will
give life meaning, for some bond that will give form and coherence to
the contemporary chaos. He is not content, as some, to paint the
disorder and go into detail about the symptoms: there is in him enough
of the old New England Puritan who gave his life to make
righteousness and the will of God prevail. Only for a period, as The
Last Puritan, was he in doubt about the meaning of righteousness and
the existence of an intelligent and righteous God. And when there came

an end to his doubts and his search proved successful, it was the
tradition of righteousness and the God of the Christian Catholic faith
that he found. It will be interesting to follow the genesis and exodus of
his quest, and though perhaps he, like a prophet of old, has had little
more than a brief glimpse of the Promised Land, it will be instructive to
hear his sincere exhortation.

But it is a culture through long discipline, a training of the

whole nature of man to a perfect harmony. The original man, now no
longer theologically damned through sin, is morally and intellectually
damned through lack of culture, for his moral and intellectual ugliness,
not theological shortcomings. There was no angry God to appease, but
a moral and intellectual ideal. The world is by nature abandoned to a
moral and intellectual chaos; only by severe discipline can human
nature be regenerated and beauty and harmony be made to prevail, and
righteousness. So Arnold clung with the more passion, because he saw
that its appeal would fall(269)on deaf ears in a world too obtuse for its
acceptance, to what might be called the tradition of human excellence.
It is an unbroken tradition: it began before the Greeks, the Greeks
deeply enriched it, and passed it on to a world not prepared to foster it.
Yet the tradition endured; there had been many who catching its full
import had carried its torch of light down, yes, to his own day. It is the
duty of each cultivated soul to be a torch bearer, to the end that this
tradition of human excellence be not lost in a world almost wholly
Philistine and barbarian.

T. S. Eliot was a student and, later, a friend and disciple of the

late Irving Babbitt. But because he was also a poet he could not remain
unquestioning in his discipleship. For the one thing, and an essential,
that is lacking in the vision of life, as Professor Babbitt defined it, is
poetry. Oil and(268)water cannot mix, and one cannot be a confessed
New Humanist of the school of Babbitt and at the same time cherish
and mature the spirit of poetry. So Eliot fell away from the strict sect of
the modern Sadduccees, and it is of this temptation and fall, as also of
that of a remote ancestor of the human race, that much can be made in
way of comment on the nature of man. For Babbitt in turn was of the
school of Matthew Arnold.

There is something exquisitely persuasive in the melancholy

eloquence of Arnold. A little more resolutely, Irving Babbitt took the
same theme, suiting it a trifle more accurately to the twentieth century,
a little less sympathetic with the Germans whom Arnold admired, and
admitting more of the lucid generosity of the French. But at best this
humanist tradition, that Arnold, Babbitt, and others cherished, had little
to offer to warm the heart and light the imagination of a poet. Eliot
never wholeheartedly accepted the New Humanism. It fatally divided
the nature of man and left one half, and that vital and living and
demanding warmth and comfort, alone in a comfortless and chilling

Now Arnold had broken with precisely half of the old Christian
tradition. Mournfully, even tragically, under the pressure of modern
science, he had questioned orthodox Christianity, in a day when its
dogma and faith seemed inconsistent with the evidence of the new
geology and biology. Like the ancient Latin poet Lucretius, he saw the
story of religion beset with innumerable superstitions and gross
cruelties. How can a man of modern culture do otherwise than deny
what seems to show so little to commend it to a tolerant understanding?
So he turned with the greater zeal to the other and richer half of the
tradition, the tradition of urbane culture. For his model of a culture that
meets all human demands and calls for the richest possible attainment
of human personality, he selected the Greeks, and for the perfect man
'who saw life steadily and saw it whole,' he set up Sophocles. Here was
something human and attainable, to replace the superhuman and
legendary, a humanist model to point the way to salvation through

For to Eliot, after he saw the light, the tradition of religious faith
is as real as the tradition of culture, and each great age of culture is also
an age of great faith. Even Sophocles, the model for all humanistic
aspiration, was a poet with a profound reverence for the gods, and his
last poem-drama, the Oedipus at Colonus, is a mystical beatific vision
as real as any caught by the saints of the Middle Ages. No, if there is a

tradition of culture, it is wedded, so Eliot and others argue, to the

tradition of religious faith and belief in a power that makes for order
and righteousness. And these two halves of the tradition are divorced
only at tragic peril. Yet more, the reason the present age is without plan
and order and meaning is precisely because it has lost its religious
faith.(270)The upholders of the Catholic tradition argue further that
there was one serious oversight in the contentions of the thinkers of the
nineteenth and the twentieth centuries who rejected religion because its
beliefs were inconsistent with science. For ultimately there must be no
quarrel between these two necessary factors in human life. Only like
two different dimensions, the values and standards of measurement in
the one are inapplicable in the other. Arnold failed, as many others
have failed, to reconcile science and religion because he strove to use
reason in order that he might arrive at faith. To reason in order that we
might believe is to invert the process. Rather one believes that he may
the more rightly employ his reason. And this truth, which Dante and the
Middle Ages understood fully, was forgotten when the new empirical
science gave a new method to scientific verification. So Eliot embraced
the creed of the Anglo-Catholics, who represent, to him, the vital link
in the tradition of religion that binds the past to the present and
anticipates the future.

But how discover and apply an ultimate test to the truth of

religion thus announced as the key to the meaning and the chart for the
conduct of life? The test is human experience,(271) and to explore this
avenue Eliot the poet becomes also the essayist and controversialist.
Because the argument runs downright and logical in the prose essays,
and their purpose is the evident one to convince, it is well to glance at
the main theme as it appears in some of his latest and most impressive
Jules Romains in his Men of Good Will, III, has an interesting
comment on the necessity of mystery in a religion:
Credo quia absurdum. The Incomprehensible, if it is the food of
faith for the soul, is also a reserve of reality for the universe. If
everything were understood, everything would be finished.
Complete intelligibility would be, in a way, the end of the
The danger of this sentiment, or of its excess, is that it tends to
make religion a romantic experience of the feelings, more like the
ecstasy of the mystery of the dark and unfamiliar, than the clear
axiomatic thing the new Catholics strive to make it. Mystery there will
be, like the mystery of the postulates of geometry, over which only the
trained mathematician can grow ecstatic. And T. S. Eliot quotes with
approval the words of Hulme, an English traditionalist:

For this tradition too has its discipline of repentance to

salvation. And the moral of this, one can read in his poems: turn from
the crass confusion of the world, cleanse one's motives, and discover an
end for life above and beyond the individual. Catholicism has its creed
and philosophy, intellectual, not sentimental or romantic, symbolized in
the art of its sacraments and liturgies. For religion without intellectual
content is perfume without a flower, or a refrain without meaning. And
the once despised word theology, which to the nineteenth century more
and more seemed to have originated in fairyland, now begins again to
take its place as the queen of the sciences, the foundation and the
superstructure of human intellectual achievement. Without it the labor
of science and art is in vain, for it alone can supply them with adequate
meaning and value.

I hold the religious conception of ultimate values to be right, the

humanist wrong. From the nature of things, these categories are
not inevitable, like the categories of time and space, but are
equally objective. In speaking of religion, it is to this level of
abstraction that I wish to refer. I have none of the feelings of
nostalgia, the reverence for tradition, the desire to recapture the
sentiment of Fra Angelico, which seems to animate most
modern defenders of religion. All that seems to me to be bosh.
What is important, is what nobody seems to realize--the dogmas
like that of Original Sin, which are the closest expression of the
categories of the religious attitude. That man is in no sense

perfect, but a wretched creature, who can yet apprehend

perfection. It is not, then, that I put up with the dogma for the
sake of the sentiment, but that I may possibly swallow the
sentiment for the sake of the dogma.

another philosopher of the same rank--Charles Maurras--and might,

indeed, correct some of the extravagances of that writer.
For there will always be the passionate dissatisfaction with life
unless some spiritual, as opposed to a purely secular, explanation can
be found. And Catholic Christianity is the best, the only full spiritual
explanation. Here are Eliot's words:(273)

These dogmas are mysteries, but not mysteries as some

contemplative(272)soul knelt transfixed with ecstasy, until all Heaven
unrolled its panorama of mystery. As I said before, the modern
Catholic gets few and only faint glimpses of heaven. The dogmas are to
him as objective and cool as the mysteries of mathematics. But perhaps
they are far more important than any vision of heaven. For in them are
the very foundations of all living and thinking, and without them life
loses content and meaning.

He finds the world to be so and so; he finds its character

inexplicable by any non-religious theory: among religions he
finds Christianity, and Catholic Christianity, to account most
satisfactorily for the world and especially for the moral world
within; and thus, by what Newman calls 'powerful and
concurrent' reasons, he finds himself inexorably committed to
the dogma of the Incarnation.

So Eliot goes about his argument coolly, apparently quite

dispassionately, sometimes being even dry and pedantic in his
submission to theology and religion, quite different from the poet of
flashing intuition. It is as though two different persons, almost
antithetical, were at work. And here is the greatest difference between
him and his master Dante. Dante is at his best when he blends, as no
Christian poet before or since ever blended, theology and poetry.

Its church is the 'repository of wisdom.' In that Catholic world

of true faith, even pessimism and despair, as they were to Pascal, again
can be the best prelude to faith and final peace. And final peace can
come only through the satisfaction of the whole being.

Like Dante Eliot is in search of peace. It cannot come on the

path of Babbitt's New Humanism. For the humanistic view is only
auxiliary to the Christian.

But I can think of no Christian writer, not Newman even, more

to be commended than Pascal to those who doubt, but who have the
mind to conceive, and the sensibility to feel, the disorder, the futility,
the meaninglessness, the mystery of life and suffering, and who can
only find peace through a satisfaction of the whole being.

But my purpose has been, not to predict a bad end for Mr.
Babbitt's philosophy, but to point out the direction which I think it
should follow if the obscurities of 'humanism' were cleared up. It
should lead, I think, to the conclusion that the humanistic point of view
is auxiliary to and dependent upon the religious point of view. For us,
religion is of course Christianity; and Christianity implies, I think, the
conception of the Church. It would be not only interesting but
invaluable if Professor Babbitt, with his learning, his great ability, his
influence, and his interest in the most important questions of the time,
could reach this point. His influence might thus join with that of

The trouble, then, with the contemporary world and

contemporary literature, like most contemporary philosophy, is that it is
purely 'secular,' and content to be secular. And he follows this
argument to its orthodox conclusion in the essays he entitles After
Strange Gods. The only cure is tradition and orthodoxy. Even 'a spirit
of excessive tolerance'--the ideal of all liberalism since Montaigne--is
to be deprecated; in its place there must prevail a resolute search for
and cultivation of a higher authority than the individual. In spite of
Eliot's persuasiveness, the mind of the thoughtful reader snaps to
questioning attention. To what does this argument lead? Are we again

faced with the centuries-old quarrel between Protestant and Catholic?

Is the Anglo in Eliot's Anglo- Catholic swallowed by the word it
qualifies? There was once an old adage, all roads lead to Rome; has
Eliot set his foot on a highway that can have only one ending? There
have been those who have said that though he speaks in the person of
an English critic and poet, the voice is that of a(274)mitred ecclesiastic-a race not notable for tolerant liberalism. There is yet something more
that comes with perplexing insistency. Is not this persistent appeal for
intolerant orthodoxy but a part of a much larger movement with many,
and some very unpleasant faces? Is his demand for a return to one
tradition in the world of spirit essentially different from the same break
with the tradition of tolerance in the political and economic world,
which today is promoting the ambitions of totalitarianisms and
submission to their authority? There have been times when to me this
excessive zeal for Catholic orthodoxy has resembled a spiritual
fascism. The story of this is a long one and painful in its context. Even
when Eliot writes that much modern literature is the result of 'exposure
to the diabolic influence,' what he really means may be endorsed quite
heartily, namely that many contemporaries are positively harmful, but
one can take exception to the inquisitorial manner in which judgment is

In this, again, he does what Dante, even more than Milton, did
in his poetry. Like Dante great poem The Divine Comedy, Eliot poetry,
from The Hollow Men to Murderin the Cathedral(275)in the Cathedral
and his latest East Coker, Burnt Norton, and The Dry Salvages, is a
single poem and comment on the poet's life, his path that led from the
error and confusion of this world through Hell and Purgatory to the
blessed vision. To read Dante's poem aright one must peruse with more
than diligent care the comment he has left us on his life and times in the
Vita Nuova and the Convito. There we see him at war with the sinister
and secular influences that surrounded him. It was 'Error's Wood,'
because it was purely a secular life, and a temporary contentment with
purely secular philosophies. It is no wonder, when in his progress
through the Inferno he makes step by step his confession of errors, that
his most severe self-condemnation comes early, just before he entered
the Hell of the Heretics. There only the vigilance of the Poet Virgil, his
guide, kept him from being lost and turned to stone.
Hell for Dante is the suffering necessary as a prelude to
salvation and peace. Such suffering is part of the divine plan for
unregenerate humanity, that they may see, with no veil to obscure, the
ugliness of sin. Evil must be stripped of all of its false allure and stand
before the poet naked, grotesque, and unashamed, not that he may
recoil at its horror and stand in judgment--Dante never judges but once-but that he may suffer in mind and body the moral illness that is
necessary before the discipline of Purgatory can be begun. It is this
thought, I think, that T. S. Eliot has in mind when, speaking of Pascal,
he spoke of despair as 'a necessary prelude to faith.' From this point of
view, then, Eliot Inferno is The Hollow Men, The Waste Land,
Gerontion, and Prufrock. And as Dante's Hell is unlit by even the
vestige of hope, cosmic waste with no redeeming quality, so Eliot's
early poems, and especially The Hollow Men, are the bleakest
expressions in contemporary literature of irrelevant waste and despair
that knows not its emptiness. Here is life, devoted to the purely secular,
reduced to its lowest terms and shown up in its ultimate arid futility.
But like Dante in The Inferno(276), the poet is not one of the damned,
not because he has been guiltless of sin, but because he understands,
knows the meaning of this cosmic disorder, and can feel the pain of its

When we turn from his prose, and his controversial prose

especially, to his poetry we enter, as I said, upon a new and more
arresting region. Here is that vitality and conviction that speaks with
the full personality, that is lacking when he argues. Here is the material,
the idea, that gives body to the poem, but it is left completely
etherialized by the living quality of the emotion that is its
accompaniment, and a striving for the right word, the right image, and
the right rhythm. There is unevenness, at times crudeness even, more
often inconclusiveness, which, added to wilful obscurity that at times
seems a pose, may keep Eliot from being a great and finished poet; but
poet he is and perhaps the most significant of our English and
American contemporaries. He has known the tradition, and from its
perspective discovered the futile welter of contemporary life.


Burnt Norton, and The Dry Salvages; and the final triumph of the
church finds its theme in the lyrics that Eliot wrote for The Rock.

meaninglessness and how completely it is at variance with the divine

order. This seems to be the significance of the 'Fire Sermon' in The
Waste Land; its comment is not unlike the comment of the poet Virgil
as he leads Dante through the labyrinth of the damned.

But Dante's vision of Purgatory and the Church was only that
there might be added the great summation of all human experience, the
cosmic vision of the All, and the discovery of the divine harmony of
the universe. Man's place in a redeemed universe, where 'the love that
moves the sun and every star' is seen to be the same love that moves in
the heart of man and has made the pageant of human history. But to see
the last vision of perfect knowledge, to see man and all nature aright,
and behind to see all spiritual Power and even the lineaments of Deity
itself--an undertaking that the Middle Ages held to be within human
scope--all this might well daunt the imagination of even the stoutest
contemporary poet. In this day when science has begun to doubt the
efficacy of its own instrument, is it not to be wondered at that poetry
feels its wings to be too weak to follow the bold lead of the medieval
poet. O voi chi siete in picolletta barca, 'O ye who in your little skiff'
venture to follow my ship that sails these unexplored seas--the poet
warns the lesser poets of the danger of the voyage. And the
contemporary poets, as all others, have refrained from the undertaking.

To the orthodox tradition, the suffering of Hell is the necessary

prelude to the pain and discipline of humility, renunciation, and
repentance. One does not need to be a theologian to accept the theme of
Dante's Purgatory. Its theology fits perfectly into any rational
philosophical theory that accepts the necessity of a profound change in
human nature as it is, before it can be touched by the desire for moral
regeneration or divine grace. Dante's heroes in Purgatory are not being
punished for their sins, or even expiating them in any crude sense of the
word. They are being transformed, transmuted, from the gross and
earthly, the state of fallen humanity, into creatures of spirit. And this
blessedness is not secured by so simple a means as a mere change of
heart and repentance: these are only the gateway through which all
must pass, the mere initial act of will that admits to the blessed Mount,
where all progress at first is exceeding hard. Human nature is so
depraved that at best the labor is long and the burden heavy before final
triumph and peace can be attained. It is a college of intellectual and
moral training; not only the will but also the reason must be fortified by
instruction and insight. Here is progress, not by trial and error, but by
formal discipline in the tradition of the intellectual and moral church of
Christendom, and the end is an adequate philosophy of life and the
blessed vision. The simplest axioms and postulates of Christianity
come first, with the gleam of morning light and the visitation of
philosopher and angel. These awaken hope and faith and the stimulus
to ascend. From then on, though the way is exceedingly(277)hard, each
step brings new knowledge, and new insight, and new ease. The end of
the purgatorial discipline is the cleansing in Lethe and Eunoe, where
memory is made right, and one can have the full vision of the history
and significance of the church as God's instrument for human welfare.
All this thought is latent or expressed in Eliot poem Ash- Wednesday. It
runs, too, like a poetic comment through the scenes of Murder in the
Cathedral; it is recaptured in his three latest war poems, East Coker,

So, though Eliot catches a glimpse now here, now there, of the
glory of a redeemed human nature, that final glory(278)when all
knowledge shall be within its grasp and human nature made perfect,
there is too much doubt in the modern mind, quite apart from modern
science, to allow any poet who would be deemed sane to set the sail of
his little skiff for such a voyage into the Empyrean. No, Eliot has not
caught all the faith and hence failed to see to its final vision his Divine
Comedy that is the allegory of human nature. So there is no Heaven in
Eliot's poetry; he sees the triumph of the church, and by its agency the
discipline of human nature, but of what nature shall be the fruits of this
triumph, here he remains discreetly silent.
His description of the purgatorial sufferings and discipline of
the contemporary Christian world is nowhere better done than in his
last three poems, a sequence from East Coker to The Dry Salvages. The
last poem gives in Christian form the advice that, in the Sanscrit

Bhagavat-Gt, the god Krishna gave to the royal warrior Arjuna. It is

the old doctrine of the right meaning of personality and action and

Probably because of this lack of great and ultimate faith in

human nature and the divine plan Eliot, like all contemporaries, is at his
best in the Hell of his poetry. To paint human weakness and depravity,
the futility of human nature, has become and still is the chief
preoccupation of all contemporary literature, until the habit has become
an easy obsession. The faith that made the great writers of the past, the
faith in the excellence of human nature, that could see its glory even in
bleak tragedy, has been denied to our generation. So we have had no
Homer or Aeschylus, no Shakespeare or Milton or Dante. And without
faith a literature perishes as well as a people. But in its pictures of a
people perishing, the literature of today has left us nothing in poetry
that can surpass in sheer bleakness some of Eliot.

'On whatever sphere of being

The mind of a man may be intent
At the time of death'--that is the one action
(And the time of death is every moment)
Which shall fructify in the lives of others:
And do not think of the fruit of action,
Fare forward . . .
These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses; and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift not half understood, is

It is needless to analyze the movement of The Hollow Men from

the emptiness of the confession:
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men,

This purgatory does not close with even the vision of the
Blessed Mount and the Triumph of the Church. These days of cruelty,
lust, and disaster are too bitter and the Triumph of Evil is too near.
There is only hope--a bleak hope muttered through gritted teeth, when
the eyes are seared with horror.(279)

to its concluding refrain:

Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.(280)

I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
Which shall be the darkness of God. As, in a theatre,
The lights are extinguished, for the scene to be changed
With a hollow rumble of wings, with a movement of darkness
on darkness,
And we know that the hills and the trees, the distant panorama
And the bold imposing faade are all being rolled away . . .
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.

It is a world unfit even for tragedy. Lives are vain, movement is vain,
hope is vain. There once was a hope.
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams.
Beauty is vain. There once was a beauty, but
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars.

It is not a poem with a logical structure, for logic is also vain. It is but
the meaningless rambling of the imagination of 'hollow men,' whose
lives are as and of sustenance as 'rats' feet over broken glass in a dry
cellar.' It is not even a Hell that brings the solace of pain, for pain has
its compensation. Hollow men lack even the nerves to feel the pain-'head piece filled with straw.'

often quite misleading, as though he had his tongue in his cheek when
he wrote them. The original theme is clear enough. The Waste Land is
the country. visited by Sir Perceval on his quest, whose king had
suffered from a wound, and while the king was ill his land was stricken
into a wilderness. As long as the questing knight failed to ask the right
question the land remained a waste. To this theme, which gives the
poem its title, is added a second theme, like an exercise in counterpoint,
from the myth of Adonis, the Assyrian god whose annual death marks
the death of nature, and whose revival is the reawakening of life. These
two myths which come from a common source give the poet the
message that contemporary life has been visited by death. But there is
also the prophecy that in the fullness of time there will come the voice
and 'reverberation of thunder of spring over distant mountains.'

And Gerontion, the little old man, with his idle ruminations--not so
good as The Hollow Men. There is always one highest peak in any
mountain range. Gerontion is not a poem to quote to oneself when
casting the lure for sleep:
Tenants of a dry house
Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.

Thus The Waste Land is a promise and anticipation of

purgatory--with its discipline and cleansing, which will ultimately
bring healing and fruitfulness to a desert world. This promise, to Eliot,
is fulfilled in the creed and liturgy of the church. In no contemporary
work of the imagination, poetry or prose, has the place of the orthodox
and traditional church been so uncompromisingly set forth as in AshWednesday. Healing is in its wings. The very title is significant of the
importance of its liturgies. Ash Wednesday, the chief festival of the
church, the day set apart and consecrated for repentance and penance-the necessary disciplines(282)for salvation prescribed by the church
and ministered to by its priests. Somewhere Aidous Huxley has said,
half sneeringly, half jestingly, 'for English Catholics sacraments are the
psychological equivalent of tractors in Russia.' But there is more than a
trifle of justice too in the charge. As the Soviet proletarian revolution
plans an economic revolution for human regeneration, whose symbol is
the sickle and hammer on its flag, so the Catholic, and not only the
English Catholic, plans an intellectual and moral revolution, whose
symbol is the moving liturgy of the church.

There is one Hell that Dante saw but made little effort to
describe, the Ante-Hell, the vestibule of the damned, the Hell of the
empty ones, people so light that they were unfit for the regions below.
Non ragionam di lor ma guarda e pama. 'Let us not speak of those but
look and pass.' It is these empty ones, who are the civilization of our
time and its motives, that are the Hell of Eliot, and where Dante held
his peace Eliot is eloquent. We are unfit even for vice:
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death's other Kingdom
Remember us--if at all--not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.(281)
He has the same theme in The Waste Land, but because the
poem has a greater logical incoherence and its allusions are more
distant, sophisticated, and even wilful, I refrain from an analysis. For
here the poet's pet vice--remote allusion even to a line in old English
drama which must be read in its context and then its context carried
into the poem-- makes reading a work of scholarship. And the notes for
the reader that he afterwards supplied are only remotely helpful and

It would be futile here to analyze in detail all the liturgical

movements of this sacramental poem. It is modeled on an old medieval
chant appropriate to the festival, the Miserere or the litany. It suggests a
choir and ministering priests and a kneeling congregation chanting in

unison, and in the background can be heard the bells summoning a deaf
and erring world to the offices of faith. All that is new is the imagery
and the press of associations that raise the liturgy above the level of the
mass of worshippers and confine the sacrament to only the
intellectually qualified and elect--the aristocracy of the excellently

For those who walk in darkness

Both in the day time and in the night time
The right time and the right place are not here
No place of grace for those who avoid the face
No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny
the voice.

There are six divisions in this antiphonal poem, and they

correspond precisely to the movements of the old liturgy. First the
confession and renunciation ending with the prayer --'Pray for us
sinners now at the hour of our death.' The second lays its unerring
finger upon the chief modern sin, what Eliot in After Strange Gods
calls our 'excessive individualism,' Pride. So here the world is called
upon to lay aside futile and individual desires. The third is the allegory
of the poet's life. But the poet is the symbol also of mankind; so here
we have the struggle of hope and despair, the illusions that have
brought their illusive rewards. Each epoch of the poet's life has its own
oriel window from which memory reviews the past.(283)

It closes with the consecration, the high water mark of Eliot's religious
poetry. Purgatory is achieved and its reward.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit of the
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated
And let my cry come unto Thee.

At the first turning of the second stair

I turned and saw below
The same shape twisted on the banister
Under the vapour in the fetid air
Struggling with the devil of the stairs who wears
The deceitful face of hope and of despair.

Dante left the third part and the best of his poems for the ranges
of experience that follow this blessing.

It is a confused and confusing picture.

One more poem yet remains whose significance to

our(284)times needs to be explored, Murder in the Cathedral. Here the
poet states in no uncertain terms the chief contemporary vice and its
only remedy. In a way, again, it is the same vice against which Dante's
Saint Peter thundered until all Heaven blazed in wrath, the vice of
secularization. The founder of the church and first Father, Peter, hurled
his anathema at those who were making the papal throne the seat of an
earthly monarch. Thomas Becket in this poem dies a martyr to an
earthly tyrant who would subordinate the church to the state. But the
moral of both poems is the same, 'Render unto Caesar the things that
are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's.' Man's life is

The fourth movement is the promise of redemption. And this is

followed by the call, from the High Altar. But only the very few are
fitted to hear. The world is blind and deaf and its reason has led it
Where shall the word be found, where will the word
Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence
Not on the sea or on the islands, not
On the mainland, in the desert or the rain land,

twain, with separate values. He who forgets the spiritual life kills half,
and the more significant half, of human nature. It is not alone states like
Russia and Germany, which have subordinated or tried to subordinate
the church to the state, that Eliot has in mind here, but also every
human being who, in excessive zeal for the mundane and unspiritual,
has forgotten the heavenly birthright of man. So the English saint's
condemnation of those that slay men's souls has a scope quite beyond
the historical story of the quarrel of an archbishop of Canterbury and
King Henry II in A.D. 1170.

Strictly speaking, from the contemporary point of view, the

Greek tragic heroes had no character. They are only strong human
motives set in action by the untowardness of the situations in which
they suddenly find themselves. As such they are a vindication of human
freedom and a revelation of human nature. In the petty routine of
human life there can be neither freedom nor glory. So Thomas, rising
above the tyranny of the present world, though he becomes its victim,
is an augury of the unquenchable divine fire in human clay, which the
most malign of human instruments cannot subdue. Saint Thomas is the
fully revealed man.

Thomas Becket was the most famous of all English saints. His
shrine in Canterbury Cathedral was long the favorite goal of
pilgrimage, and Chaucer's Canterbury Pilgrims were a group that could
for centuries have been found on the road. As in the Middle Ages these
pilgrims went with crude, perhaps, but yet expressed religious zeal, and
today they go only with the mild worldly curiosity of tourists, so our
age has degenerated from the epoch of orthodoxy and seeks 'the holy
blissful martyr' only to satisfy a bizarre and insatiable mundane itch for
novel entertainment. Who today for a moment sees in the saint the
symbol of a fight that is eternal against the encroachments of the

The story of the plot is as simple as a Greek tragedy. Thomas

Becket, boon companion then chancellor of Henry II, is given the
archepiscopal throne by the king, with the hope that he will be more
pliant to the royal authority in the day when the Pope was asserting his
power over all royal Europe. Instead he discovers himself to be the
champion of the church in England, and the quarrel between king and
Pope now becomes the personal strife between king and archbishop.
Thomas flees to France and is absent for seven years, during which
time the church languishes. He returns and the feud breaks out with
fresh violence, until the king in a fit of anger exclaims to
his(286)knights, 'Will no one rid me of this pestilent priest?' At once
four knights make their way to Canterbury and slay the archbishop
before the High Altar. There is just as little and just as much in this
historic episode for the dramatic poet as there was in the old myth of
Agamemnon or Prometheus or Oedipus for the Greek poetic

Saint Thomas in this liturgical play is a symbol. But it is not

wholly a liturgical play; it has for model also the Greek; and one cannot
see the full significance of the poem unless(285)it is laid beside the
masterpieces of the Greek drama. For as our tradition, the tradition of
orthodoxy, is Christian, it is also Greek. The Christian church in its
days of vigorous growth drew richly from the spring of ancient Greece.
Appropriately then the play is an interesting blend of the old medieval
miracle drama or saints' play and the Greek drama with few characters
and a chorus. But far more important is the debt to the inner structure
of the Greek dramatic poem. As the dramatic hero of Aeschylus or
Sophocles or even Euripides is a symbol of human nature at a moment
of severe crisis, so the Archbishop Thomas is the symbol of human
nature plucking from defeat the fruits of victory, and asserting its
freedom from the tyranny of circumstance.

For characters Eliot resorts to the method of the Greeks and the
dramatists of the Middle Ages. There is the chorus of the women of
Canterbury, fearful, bewildered, forlorn, in an age they cannot
understand. They are the you and I of this past century; and their chant
of futility at the beginning is the chant of any and all poets who cannot
see beyond the dismal present.
We try to keep our households in order;
The merchant, shy and cautious, tries to compile a little fortune,

And the labourer bends to his piece of earth, earth-colour, his

own colour,
Preferring to pass unobserved.
Now I fear disturbance of the quiet seasons:
Winter shall come bringing death from the sea,
Ruinous spring shall beat at our doors,
Root and shoot shall eat our eyes and our ears,
Disastrous summer burn up the beds of our streams
And the poor shall wait for another decaying October.

No. For the Church is stronger for this action

Triumphant in adversity. It is fortified
By persecution: supreme, so long as men will die for it.
But even more, in the transformation of the mood of the chorus
we discover a fulfilment of the true motive of martyrdom. Where
before they had been bewildered and afraid, now they are full of
confidence and hope.
Those who deny Thee could not deny, if Thou didst not exist;
and their denial is never complete, for if it were so, they would
not exist.

There are the priests who welcome their spiritual head, men
with a mission they do not comprehend, and a faith they do not
practice. They are the equally bewildered clergy of today, doing a
routine or ritual that carries no spark of vital motive.

They affirm Thee in living; all things affirm Thee in living; the
bird in the air, both the hawk and the finch; the beast on the
earth, both the wolf and the lamb; the worm in the soil and the
worm in the belly.

Thomas knows that the time of his great choice is at hand. Shall
he succumb to the temptation of living at peace or risk the wrath of the
king and the glory of martyrdom? So there are four allegorical tempters
who whisper in the archbishop's ear. First, the lure of pleasure and ease,
his early life of poetry and dalliance. Second, the robust temptation of
worldly power: co-operate with the king, become again the(287)lord
chancellor, and all England is his. The third is the more subtle: risk the
employment of worldly weapons against the worldly weapons of the
king. There are those who will gladly lend their aid to pluck from the
king his new royal prerogative. To all these temptations the hero is
deaf. But there comes the fourth, a more subtle tempter, out of the
conscience itself of its victim. Seek the glory of martyrdom, and
become for all time the saint at whose shrine all posterity will offer
adoration: the Sin of Pride.

Therefore man, whom Thou hast made to be conscious of Thee,

must consciously praise Thee, in thought and in word and in
And the play closes with a paean of thanksgiving.
We thank Thee for Thy mercies of blood, for Thy redemption
by blood. For the blood of Thy martyrs and saintsShall enrich
the earth, shall create the holy places.(288)
What is the meaning today of this antique story? Already I
believe its first significance has been made clear: the need of resolutely
distinguishing between the things that are of Caesar and those that are
of God. This is its obvious moral, and obvious for all. But as in Dante's
poem there is allegory buried under allegory, so here is there a yet
deeper meaning and a liturgical. The sacrament of atonement, the
necessity of martyrdom, not the atonement of Christ made for all, but a
daily need of atonement that those in whose sake it was made may be
saved. The mystery of vicarious suffering that a world may be

The saint meets this last in a sermon, in prose, on the meaning

of martyrdom, is assaulted by the knights, and meets death calmly
before the altar. Now comes the transformation that is the heart of the
play. Immediately the priests, who before had worked at they knew not
what, see clearly and acknowledge their calling.


redeemed, the central doctrine of orthodox Christianity, which the

contemporary world with its secular and humanitarian religions seems
completely to have forgotten, all this is urged in the undertones of the
play, else the song of thanksgiving, like the glad chant of Easter, is
quite without meaning.* Is a similar sacrifice needed today, and the
discovery of a new martyrdom and a new saint, that the world may find
a new peace?

their implied intolerance. As to the Angelic Doctor of the Middle Ages

and to its supreme poet the answer was once given, so to the new
Catholics it is again the same answer, changed only to suit new
conditions. The result is confidence and peace.

But there is yet more. Human nature is yet the human nature of the long
tradition of human excellence, which was always an active search for
peace and freedom. And these two terms are almost synonymous. One
cannot be had without the other. Those that seek peace through mere
compliance with things as they are find only bondage and death. The
resolute human nature that dares death and tyranny to assert its own
moral worth and freedom--this must never be lost, for without it not
only the individual but also the race perishes. Eliot, though the poet of
Catholic orthodoxy, is also the poet of the larger human tradition.

I have purposely left out of view Eliot latest play: A Family Reunion. It
is an interesting effort to combine the Greek with the naturalistic
tradition, and give to the whole a Christian moral of sin, guilt,
confession, and atonement. To make the mixture a bit more confusing
he adds the motive of hallucination. I cannot feel that the various
ingredients adhere or that the result is happy. Does the play mean that
the sins of the fathers are ghosts that come to life in the next
generation? Will confession and atonement lay the Eumenides, the
torturing Furies, that are the fruits of wrong doing? And will this
atonement by one member give the whole empty family a new motive
for life? Vicarious suffering and the need of a perpetual atonement, are
these the central theme of the play?(290)


'Theocentric humanism': the phrase is Maritain's, as against

'anthropomorphic humanism' that has been the heretical drift of the
tradition in Europe since the day of




It is curious that this central motive of Christian dogma is almost absent

from Dante Divine Comedy. Why?

'Not in vain, so he heard from the newly beheld God, shall have been
thy torment and thine unrest; for it shall fructify many soils.'

In a recent book Maritain cites the rape of Czechoslovakia as a

martyrdom from which all Europe will profit.(289)


'There would come a day, the latest and the last, which alone would
bring about the fulfillment of God.'

Montaigne. A self-sufficient man is a bewildered and forlorn man, with

no answer to the most perplexing and most insistent of all questions,
his nature and destiny. To his intellect, unaided by inspiration from
above, these questions remain forever unanswerable and because
unanswerable the subject of innumerable and conflicting philosophies,
like guesses in the dark. Hence the assurance of the new Catholics and

'That was no base ambition: to live in the light of the silent conviction
that God had unique designs regarding him. Ambition is not the right

word for it; for it was Ambition for God, and that deserves a higher

and the constitution of Rome. Thomas Mann, as he turns to a much

earlier episode in the history of humanity in the prose epic of the
Hebrew conscience and its beginning, finds it full of significance for
the bewildered and anxious contemporary mind.


There is yet more in the analogy of Abraham and Thomas

Mann. It was this arch-ancestor's great discovery that the charm and the
sweetness in the lands of Ur and Egypt were the allure of death and
annihilation. It was to discover life that he resisted its sensuous appeal.
Such, too, was to be the experience of his descendants Jacob and
Joseph. And as one reads from the beginning the long series of novels
and essays of Thomas Mann, with their themes from the beginning of
our century to these days of tragedy, they tell the story of this our
western civilization rounding to its period of death. There was a time,
when he wrote The Magic Mountain and(292)Death in Venice, that it
seemed he was writing the obituary of Europe, the gradual sickening of
will and reason, when men play with shadows in a world of shadows,
and succumb to the fatal sweetness and charm of the mortal malady in
the empire of the tomb. Later, when the crisis was even more alarming
and the clamor of Cerberus beyond endurance, he wrote the hope of a
rebirth. For his hero he sought in the well of time for the man that made
the great discovery of God and man and the consciousness of human
destiny. An age that has lost God and in consequence belittled man
needs the discovery.

'NOT IN vain'--there is more than a slight analogy between the selfimposed exile of Thomas Mann from his native Germany, now
sacrificing in high places to strange gods, and the flight of the ancient
forefather of his hero Joseph from the heathen Ur of the Chaldees. For
early Abraham had learned that 'one must serve the Highest alone,' and
the gods of Ur were powers lesser and sinister, and ministers of death.
So he became an exile, a man apart, the founder of a new tradition.
Likewise his descendants, Jacob and his son Joseph, in their lonely
adversity found comfort in the fulfilment of a divine plan: 'Not in vain
shall have been thy torment.' For it led to the discovery of something
that is ultimate, 'the nature of man,' and in this there is bound up also
another blessing: by discovering the nature of man Abraham
discovered also peace. Thomas Mann is devoted to the same quest.
Peace, how can it be sought in a world given up to vain strivings and
worship of the brute, strange abortions of the imagination, without pity
or reason,(291)grotesque monsters and symbols of dark power?
Abraham left the ease of the fruitful plains to save his integrity and
keep alive his faith, and moved, a questing spirit, upon the uplands and
arid hills of a new world, that in their stillness he might hear the voice
of his newly found God. The analogy is not only a personal one for
Thomas Mann the exile from Nazi Germany. It is the paradox of every
sensitive soul of today, who in the contemporary din can hear only the
alarmed and menacing cries of the beast; where in this clamor of
unhuman tongues can he find the solitude in which man can discover
reason and the will of God and peace?

In this Europe and America that may be on the point of setting

up the tradition of the state or the church as the Absolute, his return to
the individual human conscience is not unlike Luther's defiance of
Pope and Oecumenical Council and proclamation of the virtue and
necessity of non-conformity. In more ways than one Thomas Mann is
in the orthodox Protestant tradition. Life has a meaning, human destiny
is a pattern woven by the combined efforts of man and God. Man must
be admitted to 'the secrets that lie behind man and things.' These are not
written in constitutions of states or revealed to deliberative councils,
nor can they be expressed in the dogmas of any church. They are
discovered only by such as Abraham and his successors, who while
they live in the world are yet apart. 'Yea, often it hath seemed to me as

It is interesting to observe how an old epic narrative can serve a

contemporary purpose and give meaning and direction to life. To the
Greek Homer was more than an old story of a people's mythical and
divine beginnings; his poem was a textbook in contemporary conduct
and laid the foundation of classical civilization and art. Virgil in the life
story of the devoted Aeneas saw the pattern of the Roman Augustus

though the world is full of such loud rumors to the end that it may
better hide the hidden beneath them and out-talk the secrets that lie
behind men and things.'

which he will recur as one of the dominant motives of all his later
thinking. It later became the central theme in the two interesting short
novels, Tonio Kroeger and Death in Venice. The answer in these had so
stout a conviction, that it was almost possible to say of the author that
he was obsessed with the beauty of disease and death.

But before one can hear the call to come out and be separate,
one must have known in one's own life the fatal sweetness that is the
foretaste of death. So before there could be the Thomas Mann of the
Joseph and his Brothers there was the younger Mann, a generation ago,
of the Buddenbrooks, then after the war, of Death in Venice, of Tonio
Kroeger, and last, but greatest, of the Zauberberg, The Magic
Mountaintain.(293)Great as are these books, and especially the last,
they are all like Part I of Goethe Faust, the preparation, the necessary
training, the vision of Vanity Fair, that later the pilgrim of life might be
led to the region of the final vision and reality.

But all of these, the Buddenbrooks, the two little

novels,(294)are minor items in the development of Thomas Mann's
genius. They point the way to his major enterprise, the epic of the
Europe before the war, The Magic Mountain. I expect in a generation
or two, when the books of the first third of the twentieth century are
balanced and audited, that this novel will be among the very near first,
in the final assessment of the creative imagination of our time. Yet the
novel differs from every other great novel of the nineteenth century.
For its closest analogy we shall have to go back to the beginnings and
call up the spirit of Cervantes and his Don Quixote. For though both
abound in realistic description and background that all can confirm,
both are founded upon a fantasy. Each in its way is a vision and each an
allegory. Perhaps, and this is no vain conjecture, this very quality is the
hall mark of their greatness.

Buddenbrooks belongs to the pre-war generation; and its theme

is not unlike that of the family novel, where the laws of heredity and
environment work the regeneration, but far more often the
disintegration, of a family. It reminds one not a little of Zola, if one
removes the Zolaesque obsession with the unfortunate flotsam and
jetsam of contemporary civilization. Much more is it like the chronicle
of the Forsyte family by Galsworthy. And yet in it there is something
more, a distrust of some of the most admired motives of life, and
especially of art and music; but not precisely as the philistine distrusts
culture, as one of the unpractical ornaments of life that distract from the
business of making a living and founding a family fortune. Thomas
Mann in his own family had seen an honest, well-to-do manufacturing
family lose itself in a later generation in the impractical pursuit of art
and culture. He has a deeper motive for distrust.

But nowhere is the contrast between the spacious, humane days

of the Renaissance and ours more manifest than in the attitude of
Cervantes, which while it could laugh could also chide and hope for
human betterment through discipline and insight. The case of the Don
was not hopeless. His excesses were due to wrong-headedness and
folly, natural but eradicable human frailties. And at his side there was
always the pedestrian Sancho, who, though he could not aspire, at least
recognized the difference between windmills and terrormongering
giants. The world was at heart sound and wholesome, as sound and
wholesome as the highways and sun and clear air of Spain. The world
was much more nearly right than the Don in his folly deemed; its
ailment was rather of the head than of the heart; only he was the last
man in the world qualified for the adventure of setting it right.

In this novel he tells the story of the slow paralysis of the will to
live and create by the creeping nihilism of prettiness. And there rises
naturally in the mind of the reader, as in the then yet immature
imagination of the author, the active doubt: are art and music, are these
obsessions with what is called Beauty, wholesome? Are they not rather
a sign of decay and even of approaching death? Here almost in his
youth the author, in the decade before the war, posed a question to

But the comedy of the Zauberberg is bitter and unqualified. Its

background is not a real world at all, but a place of unrealities, spectra

of people, and phantasms for ideas, and no motives strong enough more
than to utter their impotence. It is a place as empty as the imagination
that creates it, and, except for its gloss on the condition of the world,
as(295)purposeless. The characters are driven not by folly but by
mortal illness, and though they move and talk as men and women, they
are shadows of humanity, humanity in dissolution, yet able to simulate
thought and action; they are the puppets of their malady. Don Quixote
was rescued from his folly and his eyes opened by a jolt from his horse.
It required the shock of a world war to scatter these shadows of the
Magic Mountain.

to begin his career as a marine engineer, has a few days of leisure and
runs up to the mountain to visit his cousin Joachim, an officer of
artillery, who has contracted the disease and is impatiently submitting
to an enforced furlough. The story begins as casually and innocently as
any realistic or naturalistic novel; and it is not until one has been
captivated by its alluring subtlety that one begins to realize that behind
all this easy charm there is a deadly serious purpose; and that one is
being read a moral and alarming lesson.
For Hans Castorp is by no means only the well-meaning but
more-or-less-purposeless young German engineer. He is Everyman, the
Everyman of pre-war Europe. Cultured and efficiently trained, loving
art and music, cosmopolitan in his background, and at the same time a
competent technological expert, he has in him all of the potential
motives of the age that could talk of music and pictures and operate
modern machinery. There is only one thing lacking. His actions are
nearly all of them purely automatic. He is sensitive, none too
intelligent, but beautifully curious about everything, including the latest
researches in science. He is Everyman. 'Du bist nicht irgend ein
Mensch, mit einem Namen . . . du bist ein Vertreter.' You are not a
person with a name--you are a type.

To make another comparison, The Magic Mountain may also be

compared with Goethe Faust. And this comparison is doubly
appropriate, for Mann is more than an admirer of the aristocrat of the
German tradition of excellence. The Magic Mountain is Goethe Faust
in reverse. For as the theme of the great dramatic poem is the gradual
regeneration of man through the wise use of experience, the theme of
the novel is the allegory of human disintegration through the
simulacrum of experience, until will becomes atrophied and reality is
lost in a Walpurgis Night of kaleidoscopic illusion. In the former, time
and causation are real, because both are directed and measured by an
active will; here all sense of time disappears and human endeavor is
directed only to its annihilation. The one is occupied with life and how
it may be lived more abundantly, in spite of the cynical temptation of
Mephistopheles whose reward is death; the other slowly submits to the
luxury of death. So far has the spirit of optimism at the beginning of the
nineteenth century been transmuted into its opposite in the narrow
compass of a hundred years. Such is the sentence one of its keenest
critics passes upon the Europe of the days before the Great War.

The Magic Mountain itself is not a place on any map of

Switzerland, or anywhere else. It is Europe. It is a place of disease and
imminent death, as Europe is a hospital whose vocation is disease and
death. The motives of all the patients are vain, infertile, the ceaseless
talk of Vanity Fair, Maya, the world of illusion, that expends its time in
vapid exploitation of all motives, none of which are carried into action,
endless talk on endless subjects, but no accomplishment except death,
that silently and without notice lurks behind all the idle philanderings
and purposeless chatter. For compensation there are the aimless gaiety,
parties, dances, masquerades, (297)even lectures on science that the
intellects of the inmates might not be neglected, and music and art,
above all music and art. These are not pursued as professions or as
creative activities, but only as distractions, to keep people from
thinking on life and death, to make them forget time and themselves.
The Magic Mountain is a pseudo-world, a world designed as an escape

For the Magic Mountain is Europe. In the story it is a cure in

Switzerland and its patients the miscellaneous victims of tuberculosis
from everywhere in Europe; and as we get acquainted with them an
amazingly cultured and proper selection from all the proper walks of
life. It is a microcosm of Europe. Curiously, and yet for a good reason,
only the(296) workers and the peasants are not represented. The hero,
Hans Castorp, freshly graduated from an engineering school and ready

from the world, a place of refuge for those who would play only with
abstractions and substitutes.

lui qui fait la mort, oui, ils sont charnels tous deux, l'amour et
la mort, et voila leur terreur et leur grande magie!

For Thomas Mann is convinced that art and music, when they
serve only as distractions from life, a cultured form of idleness and a
relief only to the emotions when these have no consort with reality, are
the way of death, and not of life. This is the main theme of the Death in
Venice, the story of the gradual disintegration of what once may have
been a very real artist. More than once he returns to the same theme in
this novel. Hans Castorp easily finds his place in such a world of

Clavidia closes the scene with the only remark that the place
and time could find fitting--'Adieu, mon prince Carnaval! Vous aurez
une mauvaise ligne de fivre ce soir, je vous le predis.'
In this region where life pauses and awaits annihilation there is
also the annihilation of Time.
How long Joachim had lived here with his cousin, up to the
time of his fateful departure, or taken all in all; what had been the date
of his going, how long he had been gone, when he had come back; how
long Hans Castorp himself had been up here when his cousin returned
and then bade time farewell; how long--dismissing Joachim from our
calculations--Frau Chauchat had been absent; how long, since what
date, she had been back again (for she did come back); how much
mortal time Hans Castorp himself had spent in House Berghof by the
time she returned; no one asked him all these questions, and he
probably shrank from asking himself. If they had been put him, he
would have tapped his forehead with the tips of his fingers, and most
certainly not have known--a phenomenon as disquieting as his
incapacity to answer Herr Settembrini, that long-ago first evening,
when the latter had asked him his age.

All are preoccupied with the prince of shadows, Death. For

there is no other preoccupation that is more sensuously thrilling. A
sound body with a sound imagination is only occasionally alert to the
sensuous call of life. Its concern is with matters beyond itself, the world
in which it plays its part is far more interesting and absorbing than the
telegraphic record of peripheral nerves. To the ill, cut off from most of
the activities of life, little is left except the luxury of an abandonment to
sense. Here on the Magic Mountain, as the young hero at once
discovers, all creative activity has ceased, and the campaign with death
has become each inmate's personal adventure, symbolized by the fever
chart each displays as the chief objet d'art over his bed. Hans Castorp
too begins early to keep the curve of his fever, and study the X-ray
photos of his lungs, with its light and dark areas like the surface of the

Now there are two ways of rising above time, a positive and a
negative, and of escaping its bondage. For time, to those who would
throw off its chains, is the routine of the commonplace, the table of
conventional necessities that binds man to the wheel and destroys
freedom. The Buddhist seeks its annihilation by rising above the desire
for individual existence, by slowly throttling all selfish motive, and
thus discovering(299) by the discipline of Yoga that the world of self is
the world also of illusion. Time is only the last illusion and most
persistent. He thus attains the great victory whose end is the bliss of
Nirvana. We have seen how this philosophy that denies the reality of
the world of sense has colored and given substance to the poetry of the
Indian Tagore. There is a caricature of this philosophy in the effort of

Even when he falls in love--for there is also the shadow of love

in this world of shadows--the photograph that he(298) begs from
Clavidia is not one a living lover would carry, but the X-ray picture of
her thorax, that he may immortalize her illness. And on the evening of
a masquerade there is a conclusion of a liturgy in love making without
parallel-Oh, l'amour, tu sais-- Le corps, l'amour, la mort, ces trois ne
font qu'un. Car le corps, c'est la maladie et la volupt, et c'est


Proust to gain immortality for the moment by fusing in recaptured

memory the sentient past. For these moments are timeless in that they
are unselfish, freed from the bondage of the present and immediate
individual desire. Proust literally was searching by the discipline of a
new Yoga for a sort of psychological Nirvana, and its compensating

of life in the motives of the soldier? He at least had the virtue of his
profession, and the world of illusion about him was a continuous and
irrelevant bondage. The generous and chivalric soldier--but he too,
though he saw through it all, had the disease. For war is no longer the
profession of the chivalric and generous; so he dies before his cousin
Hans Castorp's sojourn is complete.

But the patients of the Berghof had neither the opportunity nor
the motive for any such discipline. The oriental mystic is convinced
that behind the illusion of time lies the only significant reality, the
eternal, and he would live free of all illusion. For the comrades of the
cure there is only one reality, the negative one of Death. It too, like
eternity, is timeless, and in the cult of the dance of Death all are joined,
the serious and the gay, the intellectual and the purely sensuous. In
their world of fleeting illusions there is also a victory over Time. But
time is not swallowed up in Eternity, it is annihilated in Death. It is an
illuminating sojourn this. So a visit begun as a careless gesture
becomes a pilgrim's progress toward timelessness and Death. The fact
that Mann here in his symbolism is using a well-known psychological
reaction of most tubercular victims towards time only adds to its force.

There is the charming and lovable Settembrini--the name is

allegorical--the symbol of the decay of enlightened liberalism with its
appeal to the best in human nature. He is cynical but not bitter. He is
rhetorical as liberalism has always been, from Voltaire to John Bright
to Woodrow Wilson. But this is liberalism now in its disintegration,
more voluble than ever, and more humane and more lovable, but loosed
now from all power of action. He can cite the victories of the past, and
the hopes for human regeneration, and deal bitterly with all that
oppose, and especially with the most dangerous foe of all liberalism,
the Jesuit Jew advocate of the totalitarian state and force, Naphta.
Herr Naphta is a person of most unusual mental powers. He is
by nature discursive, and so am I. Condemn me if you will--I avail
myself of the opportunity to cross swords with an antagonist who is
after all my equal. I have no one else--anywhere.-- In short, it is true
that I visit him and he me, we take walks together. We dispute. We
quarrel, nearly every day, till we draw(301)blood; but I confess the
contrariness and mischievousness of his ideas but render our
acquaintance the more attractive. I need the friction. Opinions cannot
survive if one has no chance to fight for them--and I am only confirmed
in mine.

It is an interesting group of characters that Hans Castorp is

introduced to on this mountain of illusions, characters who are wraiths
of ideas and not real personalities, for they have been denied the power
of action. Rather they seem fixed attitudes; ides fixes, that have all the
convincingness of live and mobile ideas, except that of carrying
themselves into action. As we pass them in review are they not a
generous(300) handful of the ghosts that haunted the voluble corridors
of the pre-war decade? For as they are impotent for creative action they
cultivate the gardens of speech and persuasion--all except one.

But the blood that Settembrini draws is only the blood of


He is Joachim the soldier, grimly taciturn and impatient,

impatient to go below to the world of action and his profession of war.
He is the only character with a positive motive, who counted the days
and refused to be compensated by any world of shadows. Does Thomas
Mann, seeing the preparations that the pre-war nations of Europe, and
especially Germany, were making for war, find the only positive signs

Herr Naphta, by the very combination of opposites in his blood

and training, is a force, but only a stage villain engaged in a
masquerade of danger. His real power will not be given him until the
war has driven Europe out of the mountain of illusion and closed its
gates. A great deal of very recent history is locked up in this personage,

who yet is as much a ghost as his opponent in these verbal duels. The
intensity and moral conviction of the Jew, the training and discipline
and will to obedience of the Jesuit, the conviction that institutions are
greater than the individual, and above all the moral creed that the end
will justify every, even the most bloody, means; it isn't hard to classify
Herr Naphta. Of all its patients he seems the most out of place in this
Eden of the lifeless. But what motive in those care-free years before the
war seemed potent for evil? It was the age of perfect tolerance, when
tolerance meant perfect indifference. But here is Herr Naphta--we think
a little differently of him today. He is telling the story of Communism.

hand from the shedding of blood. Its task is to strike terror into the
world for the healing of the world, that man may finally achieve
salvation and deliverance, and win back at length to freedom from law
and from distinction of classes, to his original status as child of God.
There is Clavidia Chauchat whose unconventional photograph
Hans Castorp carries and to whom he makes feverish love. If Naphta
and Settembrini bring Castorp under cascades of ideas enough to
bewilder and confound, Clavidia is an unpredictable geyser of
sensations and emotions. She is as spontaneous and unpredictable in
her comings and goings. She is the breaker up of smug order, she never
fails to slam doors as she enters or leaves the otherwise peaceful and
orderly dining room. But she is no less disorderly in her views. Here is
her definition of morals in those closing days of nineteenth-century

Indeed, these humane spirits were revolted by the idea of the automatic
increase of money; they regarded as usury every kind of interest-taking
and speculation, and declared that every rich man was either a thief or
the heir of a thief. They went further. Like Thomas Aquinas, they
considered trade, pure and simple, buying and selling for profit,
without altering or improving the product, a contemptible occupation.
They were not inclined to place a very high value on labour in and for
itself, as being an ethical, not a religious concern, and performed not in
the service of God, but as a part of the business of living. This being
the case, they demanded that the measure of profit or of public esteem
should be in proportion to the actual labour expended, and accordingly
it was not the tradesman or the industrialist,(302)but the labourer and
the tiller of the soil, who were honourable in their eyes. For they were
in favour of making production dependent upon necessity, and held
mass production in abhorrence. Now, then: after centuries of disfavour
these principles and standards are being resurrected by the modern
movement of communism. The similarity is complete, even to the
claim for world-domination made by international labour as against
international industry and finance; the world-proletariat, the politicoeconomic means of salvation demanded by our age, does not mean
domination for its own sake and in perpetuity; but rather in the sense of
a temporary abrogation, in the Sign of the Cross, of the contradiction
between spirit and force; in the sense of overcoming the world by
mastering it; in a transcendental, a transitional sense, in the sense of the
Kingdom. The proletariat has taken up the task of Gregory the Great,
his religious zeal burns within it, and as little as he, may it withhold its

La morale? Cela t'intresse? Eh bien, il nous semble, qu'il

faudrait chercher la morale non dans la vertu, c'est-a-dire dans
la raison, la discipline, les bonnes murs, l'honntet, mais
plutt dans le contraire, je veux dire dans le pch, en
s'abandonnant au danger, ce qui est nuisible, ce qui nous
consume. Il nous semble qu'il est plus moral de se perdre et
mme de se laisser dprir, que de se conserver. Les grands
moralistes n'tai(303)ent point de vertueux, mais des
aventuriers dans le mal, des vicieux, des grands pcheurs qui
nous enseignent nous incliner chrtiennement devant la
misre. Tout a doit te dplaire beaucoup, n'est-ce pas?
Close relative of Andr Gide, is she not? Clavidia is an
interesting person, the new eternal feminine. But again how unlike
Goethe ewig weiblich, who brings order and peace and direction into
the miscellaneous life of Faust. Instead she is the angel of a chaos of
impotent ideas and impotent passion.
In all this Hans Castorp becomes a genius in absorbing
experience that leads nowhere. Nor does he even learn whether his
illness is real or imaginary, so well does he fall into the life of diseased

futility. He offers himself to these pseudo-adventures with the full

knowledge that their only effect will be on that all important fever line.
In this 'epic of disease' he even learns to find disease interesting;
perhaps it reveals more of the spiritual nature of man than health.
Perhaps, even, it is a part of the order of nature, and is eine Form der
Leidenlichkeit; one of the forms the life of passion ordains. Perhaps
characters are even ennobled by it, and in its exquisiteness it is to be
preferred to gross health. Perhaps love itself is a disease, in its richest
ecstasy available only to those that have the mark of the malady. 'C'est
de mon ancien amour pour toi; que ces marques me restent qui
Behrens a trouvs dans mon corps, et qui indiquent que jadis aussi
j'tais malade.' Faust makes the grand adventure to discover Helena
that he may be made whole, but Hans Castorp--

the Highest alone. Remarkable indeed.For the answer revealed a selfassertiveness which might be called excessive and arrogant. The man
might have said to himself: 'What am I and of what avail, or the human
being in me, what mattereth it which little god or idol or minor deity I
serve?' He would have had an easier time. But instead he said: 'I,
Abram, and humanity within me, must serve the Highest and nought
else.' And that was the beginning of it all (as it pleased Joseph to hear).

The Great War was the thunderbolt that broke up the adventure
in diseased futility. As we last see Hans Castorp-- millions of Hans
Castorps--'feet heavy with mould, the bayonet swinging in his hand,'
'farewell, honest Hans Castorp, farewell . . . Out of this universal feast
of death, out of this extremity of fever, kindling the rain-washed
evening sky to a fiery glow, may it be that Love one day shall mount?'
War was one way out of the mount of illusions; it was a reality bitter
and malignant and only temporary. Can there be a(304)better hope for
the civilization of Europe? And that answer Thomas Mann is now
engaged in unfolding in his story of Joseph and his Brothers.

Though the title turns the spotlight only on Joseph the story is
the epic of four generations, the Biblical prose epic of Abraham, Isaac,
Jacob and Joseph, the founders of the tradition of a chosen people, and
the reason and manner of their choice. But Thomas Mann is of too
catholic a nature to suggest that it is of the nature of the Hebrew
tradition that he is speaking; much rather it is of the tradition of
humanity. Abraham and his descendants are the allegory of humanity
in general in the process of an evolution from savagery, and(305)the
end of the process is only remotely suggested, 'the fulfilment of God.'
For each in his way had the vision, the vision of the place of Man in a
divine plan, and the ardent need of co-operation with God that the will
of God may be made to prevail. Each had the ambition, 'that was no
base ambition: to live in the light of the silent conviction that God had
unique designs regarding him. Ambition is not the right word for it; for
it was ambition for God, and that deserves a higher name.'

. . . Thus out of impulse toward the Highest had Abraham

discovered God; had by teaching and by taking thought shaped
Him further and bodied Him forth and therewith done a great
good deed to all concerned: to God, to himself, and to those
whose souls he won by his teaching.

For the theme of this yet uncompleted novel I think the words
of the author are the most pertinent. The old servant Eliezer had been
speaking: he had been--or one like him-- the companion of the
patriarch Abraham. He is now the companion, guide, and instructor of
the young Joseph.

Vision--the word has long had a sinister meaning, as one thinks

of the ecstasies of medieval ascetics and now knows some of the
psychological motives that have given them birth. There often is more
of the psychopathic than spiritual in the orgiastic excesses of a
vagabond imagination. But there is vision of a quite different variety,
without which one shudders at what level human life would be left
stranded. Even science and the scientific mind are not without a debt to

That made an impression on Joseph; he grasped it at once,

particularly the part about taking things seriously. For in order to give
any sort of importance or significance to things--or any one thing--one
had to, before God and man, take them seriously. Forefather had
beyond a doubt taken seriously the question as to whom man should
serve; and had given it a remarkable answer, to wit: one should serve

those who had visions regarding the meaning of things and their
relationship. The commonplace pedestrian mind is content with things
as they have been presented, not looking behind and around for pattern
or significance beyond the bare needs of everyday life. But a moment
of thought and quickly the inquiring mind feels the queerness of the
universe, large or small, in which it tries to discover a meaning. The
scientist G. B. S. Haldane is reported to have said of it, 'The universe is
not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.' It
is only vision that can discover a clue to the manner of its queerness,
and how to read its meaning.

Exactly of the same worth was the vision of the meaning of life
that came to forefather Abraham. It came with the convincingness of a
motive that polarized personality and freed it for action. It made him
suddenly feel the abyss that separated him from his neighbors, who
continued to accept the currency of the age and life at face value.
Abraham escaped from the Magic Mountain of illusion and death.
From this day forth he became the ancestor of all who demand reality
of life and a personal, vital motive for living. Abraham was different.
As Goethe Faust was an epic of humanity, so will this sequence
of novels, when it is complete, be an epic. But there is a difference, not
only in its philosophy, but also in the background of its science. Goethe
Faust carried an optimistic (307)faith in human nature, in that morning
of science, that could remove mountains. The compact with
Mephistopheles was unfair to the spirit of evil, who himself is
perplexed by his impotence. He confesses himself baffled, the spirit
that 'ever wills the bad, but works the good.' Faust was never in danger
of damnation. In our day, on the contrary, we are troubled by the
dubious fate of man, and damnation has again a very real, though no
longer a theological, significance. And a wager with the spirit of evil
today is no jesting matter. As if we slipped a coin into some cosmic slot
machine, the law of averages seems against us. The saga of Joseph is
more serious than the drama of Faust.

Vision accepts life not at its face value. And from this point of
view there is no essential difference between the vision of the scientist,
that of the poet, and that of Abraham and every mystic that challenges
the accepted values. The only check is the practical one after the event,
of whether it can be made to work; by their fruits do we know them, the
visions of scientist, poet, and mystic. So Sir Isaac Newton,(306)from
the simple facts known from the beginnings of time, came upon the law
of moving bodies. His imagination leaped the gap from experience to a
formula that transcends experience and measures the stars. So Einstein
corrected Newton, supplying something that in his day was beyond the
earlier philosopher's scope. So has come every great discovery in
science through the freed and heightened consciousness, the
imagination or vision, that insisted on seeing beyond the face value of
things, into the invisible.

It casts also a much wider net. Time-- Goethe remarked once

that at his death Faust was a hundred years old. But the story of these
four generations is unfathomable in the well of time. They are four
generations; they are also four epochs in the evolution and discipline of
humanity. They are the discoveries that man has made as the tradition
of humanity took form and grew and became a mighty power.
Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph are here each in his own person, and
each in his own age; but again their times are first obscure and distant,
then clearer and close to ours. It was always also a personal discovery,
in spite of the tradition; and the blessing each possessed involved only
the power each gained to act; the vision had to be repeated and passed
with its blessing to the coming epoch. Above all, each must act in the
faith and light the vision conferred.

It is this same 'imaginative enfranchisement accompanied by a

greater degree than ever before of comprehension' that is the gift of
great poetry. Homer, before the beginnings of human history, read the
story of a world of gods and men and made it intelligible to human
reason. Intelligibility of the world in which we live, the postulate that
man's reason can comprehend and thus at least partly control the world
in which it works, without this postulate all life becomes the victim of a
benevolent or mischievous caprice. Once open the door to caprice, and
science is impossible. It was the poet's vision that made science
possible. More than once in the history of human progress the poet has
pointed the way that science has followed.

A long tradition and a growing one of man's conflict with his

chief enemy. The enemy was always Death, stagnation, disbelief in the
living essence of humanity and its divine coadjutor. To Abraham, back
in the primitive days of human nature, the enemy was symbolized by
the story of Nimrod, savagery. Isaac, of a later epoch, found his enemy
in Ishmael, the code of the restless nomad. Jacob, of a day not far
removed from the modern, had two enemies, one of temperament and
one of a code for life. He had his twin brother(308)rival, Esau, the spirit
of romantic excess and uncertain temper and lack of discipline,
passionate and unpredictable. The other foe was his relative Laban, a
man of commerce, given up to the pursuit of wealth and industry for its
own sake. Jacob must learn to deal righteously and yet firmly with
both, and live apart. Joseph, the contemporary, finds the effete and
dead culture and refinement of Egypt, with its art and beauty and
sensuousness and obscenity, the most insidious and difficult foe of
them all. Joseph must live in Egypt, the land of the cult of Death, and
yet find life and not falter in pursuit of the blessing.

inward fact; but it was also the origin of the peculiar character
of Abram's fear of God.
A double discovery. There is an upper world, the world of
spirit, and a nether world, the world of matter. Man shares of the
natures of both, but forgets the upper, and can become wholly absorbed
in the nether world, the abode of matter and death. The upper world,
the nether world, and the story of the evolution of history is by Mann
symbolized by the cults of the dying god in the regions about
Palestine(309)from whose sensuous appeal the earlier patriarchs must
hold themselves aloof. It was symbolized in Egypt by the aesthetic
cults of animals and birds, the creatures of the appetites, and by the
feasts and art dedicated to the dead. Each had its cults of fertility and its
obsession with sex, but fertility is only matter perpetuating itself, and
sex an aesthetic obsession with sensual appetite. Thus each serves only
the lower life. They are not life dedicated to an end beyond itself, but
life obsessed with its own processes in the prospect of death, like the
obsession of the patients on the Magic Mountain with their own fever
charts. There was beauty, but in these paganisms that the four
generations lived to conquer, it too is dedicated to itself and death.
There is exquisite taste, but it is meaningless. These are symbolized in
the Joseph in Egypt by the attractive figure of Potiphar, lovable but
impotent, whose highest ambition was realized when he was allowed to
call himself the unique friend of Pharaoh. He was a eunuch.

And the vision is the discovery of man, and in that discovery

also the discovery of God.
I taste of death and knowledge when, as story-teller, I adventure
into the past; hence my eagerness, hence my fear and pallor. But
eagerness has the upper hand, and I do not deny that it is of the flesh,
for its theme is the first and last of all our questioning and speaking and
all our necessity; the nature of man. That it is which we shall seek out
in the underworld and death, as Ishtar there sought Tammuz and Isis
Osiris, to find it where it lies and is, in the past.

Abraham, the founder of the new tradition, learned one more

truth, and a perilous one, that one may fall away from God, and the
soul may again lose itself in matter.

. . . The mighty properties of God were indeed something

objective, existing outside of Abraham; but at the same time
they were also in him and of him. The power of his own soul
was at certain moments scarcely distinguishable from them; it
interlaced and melted consciously into one with Him, and such
was the origin of the bond which then the Lord struck with
Abraham. True, it was only the outward confirmation of an

For here was the important fact: through Abram and his bond
something was come into the world that had never been there before
and which the peoples did not know--the accursed possibility that the
bond might be broken, that one might fall away from God.
And the plot of the novel is the successive temptations that
came to Jacob and again to Joseph, to let go, to permit one success to
take the place of perpetual non-conformity with the cults and practices

about them, and to forget 'the silent conviction that God had unique
designs regarding him.'

story of Jacob's theft of the birthright from his temperamental twin

Esau, and the consequent long sojourn in a strange land, with his
kinsman Laban. Then how his power and sense of a unique destiny are
awakened by his love for Rachel, and his return to the land of the
'promise.' Next we have the(311)two great incidents in the life of his
favorite son Joseph-- this youth who had more than human beauty and
more than human intelligence. It is a story of how Joseph first came
into the region of Death when he exalted himself above his brothers,
and was in return by them put into a pit and then sold into slavery.
Schooled by this shock Joseph advances himself in the household of
Potiphar in Egypt until he catches the attention and the mad infatuation
of Mut his Egyptian master's beautiful priestess wife. And finally how
he escaped the last and most formidable temptation. There was a
'parallel between his sin against Potiphar's wife and his earlier sin
against his brothers. Once more he had gone too far, in his craving to
make people "sit up"; once more the waking of his charm, which it was
his good right to employ, for his own enjoyment and for the honor and
profit of his God, had been allowed to get beyond control, to
degenerate into actual danger.' So again Joseph was punished. But the
Creator in punishing Joseph made 'misfortune a fruitful soil whence
renewed good fortune should spring.' And this will be the theme in the
next novel of the sequence.

In return for this silent conviction and conformity to the unique

designs, each of the generations had the blessing, and the promise. The
blessing was a source of power, and the promise for the future. As they
had given the spirit in man the victory over matter, and the soul was
brought into conformity (310)with its higher origins, the old
uncertainty and meaninglessness of life was now replaced by a quiet
dignity and confidence, serenity, and above all the power to act. Each is
now to bring life into the world and to drive out evil and death, and
thus to 'fructify many souls.' As the story progresses, how true this is of
the beautiful Joseph. Potiphar, even the impotent, is given through him
a feeling of self-confidence. He 'strengthens my heart in my own
regard.' Such is the blessing: 'For let a man once have the idea that God
has special plans for him, which he must further by his aid, and he will
pluck up his heart and strain his understanding to get the better of all
things and be their master.' So Joseph rightly exclaims, when he
resisted temptation: 'How could I commit such a folly and sin against
God?' Though far from perfect, Jacob and his son Joseph avoided folly,
with its penalty of 'shame, guilt and mocking laughter,' and remained

There is much more in this interesting sequence of novels on

the meaning of man and his destiny. The author has thrown a wide net
of scholarship over the latest research in anthropology, comparative
religion, and myth. And all has been used, as by Goethe in the scenes
of the Walpurgis Night in the Faust, allegorically to represent
contemporary states of mind and folkways. But all this, just now, is
beside the mark. What has Thomas Mann to say of the right faith that
shall furnish a motive for life today and lead us away from the
sensuous poison and impotent ideas of the Magic Mountain? It may
even be given us to doubt the final place of Joseph and his Brothers in
literature, for it is weighted with its message until the axles of the novel
groan under the burden; and the symbolism obscures the features of life
like the mask of learning the instructor is forced to wear when
he(312)lectures. But again be this as it may, it too is now beside the

Each of the four generations had the 'promise.' This was to be

the 'fulfilment of God.'
There would come a day, the latest and last, which alone would
bring about the fulfillment of God. This day was end and beginning,
destruction and new birth. . . . The realization of God's great and
boundless kingship was reserved for that first and last day, for the day
of destruction and resurrection; when out of the bonds wherein it still
lay, His absolute splendour would rise up before the eyes of all.
It is with this central theme that Thomas Mann tells the story of
Jacob and Joseph, clothing the simple lines of the prose epic in Genesis
with contemporary spiritual meaning: the story of how Jacob and then
Joseph, his favorite son, finally attained the 'blessing.' There is first the

mark. What has Thomas Mann to say of a motive for life in this
changing and sceptical age?

to think--in short from moral and reasonable obligation altogether.' But

individualism and faith in individual vision is the only possible
foundation for successful democracy--that dream of the future and the

First he has much to say about this our age of supposed unique
change. It is not unique. He dives into the 'well of time' and discovers
that the tradition of humanity has been much the same since man
became man. The rolling sphere-- now man is God, now God becomes
man. A period of enthusiasm and a glimpse of vision, and then
disillusionment and sensuous cynicism and the exaltation of the animal.
Man has always come back after a period of romantic excess to earth
and 'reality,' as to a cheerless house on a cold night with no fire on the
hearth to gladden his return. In exchange for impotent cynicism and
make-believe with illusions, our author offers the long tradition of the
man with the blessing and the promise, a perilous tradition for it is the
gift of a vision that will not allow man to falter or use half measures in
his devotion.

This belief in the perfectibility of the individual and in the

supreme worth of vision is the thing that I called at the beginning the
protestantism of Thomas Mann. 'Forefather' Abraham came out from,
actively protested against, the mass creeds and mass traditions of the
people about him. He could act only as the message came from his own
heart, for in its austere purity and in its assertion of life, he recognized
the voice of powers greater than his own, spiritual powers that were at
work to round the sum of human destiny. With these powers he felt
himself called to co-operate to the end that justice and the will of God
might be made to prevail. This insight and mission gave him the power
and serenity that imposed itself upon others and made of him a

It is this tradition and faith that has made humanity and given
progress, for it alone preserves against stagnation and death. It writes
the history of humanity in the lives of those unique and chosen
individuals that had the faith. This faith is not a creed, nor the
philosophy of a school or community. On the contrary it is an insight
possessed alone by the unique individual, a faith in himself and his
destiny, which somehow is tied up with that of the spiritual power that
is working for intelligence and order, a faith that 'there would come a
day, the latest and the last, which alone would bring about the
fulfilment of God.' Here is the creed of a professed individualist, in this
day when the repudiation of individualism has perhaps gone farther
than at any time since the Roman Empire.


'To suffer woes that Hope thinks infinite;
To forgive wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates
From its own wreck the thing it contemplates;
Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent;
This . . . is to be
Good, great and joyous, beautiful and free;
This is alone Life, Joy, Empire, and Victory.'

In this individualism, to Thomas Mann, lies the only hope of

democracy. For it alone asserts the dignity of man; but it is not an easy
or even a comfortable hope. 'For the collective is a comfortable sphere
by comparison with the individual (313)comfortable to the point of
laxity. What the collectivist wants and concedes to himself and others
is a perpetual holiday. What he loves and longs for is ecstasy . . . The
main thing is intoxication, the release from the ego, from its obligation


'TILL hope creates'-- This conclusion to a study that began as a
vacation interlude is being written as one more tragedy of human hope
thunders to its climax. Is there any place for hope? Never perhaps since
the twilight of the Roman Empire have the grounds for pessimism been

more painfully obvious, never the evidence for a fatal defect in human
nature that makes for tragedy more overwhelming; and never was hope
more needed, the obstinate hope in human nature and human destiny,
whose Declaration and Bill of Rights one can read in Shelley
Prometheus Unbound.

work? How shall the old joy of living be preserved when life comes
with a new and bewildering aspect? How can peace and freedom and
security be discovered when nations and groups of people seem
committed to their denial?
For peace and freedom and security are not institutions, nor can
they be written into the formulas of any national or world constitution.
They are states of mind and depend for their worth on the individual.
Montaigne, writing in the bitterest days of the religious civil wars of
France, when intolerance and persecution left no home secure, could
express(316)his passionate love of freedom and his attainment of a
tolerable security.

Slowly twenty years ago, and then gathering speed as we settled

down to the task of understanding the aftermath of the First Great War,
came the conviction that the old order has passed, and the new, hideous
or beneficent--and of its final issue who shall prophesy?--is yet in the
making. And then in these last few months disillusionment, the
shattering of hope, and for some cruel despair. What has the future in
store--the immediate future and the distant--for the hope
of(315)humanity, as Shelley once dreamed? Is all that the nineteenth
century built in the name of liberalism and human freedom to be
ground under the ruthless heel of the cynical despiser of human nature?
To save a people must we proclaim its fatal incompetence, and feed
and condition it as a farmer his cattle? We are facing a new world,
cruelly aware of its painful novelty. What form shall it take, and how
shall we accommodate ourselves to the change? Is there to be hope for
humanity in this changing world?

The fact that so many guarded homes are destroyed, when this
one remains unmolested, makes me suspect that they are lost because
they are guarded . . . I make the assay to keep this corner away from the
public tempest, as I make another corner in my soul . . . [In another
place he adds:] How much it means to her [his soul] to be so situated
that, whithersoever she casts her eyes, the heavens around her are
serene; that no desire, no fear or doubt disturbs her atmosphere; that
there is no difficulty, past, present, or future, over which her
imagination may not roam without harm.

These questions we are all asking as this new war moves into
the last scene of its drama before the final curtain. Will peace, when
there is peace--not a truce like that of the past twenty years, which was
only an interlude between two wars--will it answer any of these
questions? But questions that seem obvious now have been persistently
asked this quarter century by the sensitive imagination of poet and

And yet Montaigne loved also freedom: 'I am so hungry for

freedom that if anyone were to forbid me access to some corner of the
Indies I should feel my life to be a little constrained. And as long as I
can find earth and air free and open elsewhere, I will never live in a
place where I must hide.' If Montaigne could discover these priceless
gifts in his day of national disaster, is the quest hopeless today?

As one reads the story of this imagination since the turn of the
century one sees that there has been a persistent uniformity in the
questions asked of life, in spite of wide difference in the manner of the
answer. A bewildering new world full of novel discomforts created by
the new science and technology, and man with all his heritage of
folkways and tradition--how shall these be reconciled? How can old
values be rescued in these new regions where he is asked to live and

Our contemporaries are embarked on that quest. They return

baffled and disillusioned, or ardent and full of hope. The stories of their
adventures have been interesting and vital, for of their disappointments
or faiths we are the participators. They make articulate thoughts or
ideals that with us struggle for utterance.


To many, doubtless, this inner autobiography of our age will

appear as a new confusion of tongues. But has it not always been so in
every changing age in the past? Yet as we can look back now from our
perspective, the inconsistencies tend to disappear, like the foot hills of a
mountainscape, and the peaks parade in inexorable order. May not the
same pattern begin to reappear to those in the next century, who will be
able then to smile indulgently at our fancied confusion? There was a
day once when a new gospel was preached in a world as heterogeneous
as ours, and the assembled multitude, Parthians, Medes, and Elamites,
though(317)divided in language, 'each heard in his own tongue.' So full
of fervor were the apostles. Is the miracle being repeated today? An
interesting question. Perhaps some of the fervor is wanting; and the
pain of the confusion fraught with more danger.

history reads the lesson that human progress is not the necessary sequel
of technical progress, are we not all the more inevitably thrown back,
as once was Montaigne, on man's only reliance, himself?
To this pious conclusion of a pagan [he has just quoted Seneca
on Heraclitus] I will only join these words of a witness in the same
condition . . . 'O what a mean and abject thing is man, says Seneca, if
he does not rise above humanity!' There we have(318)a good word and
a profitable desire, but at the same time an absurd one. For to make the
handful bigger than the hand, and the armful bigger than the arm, and
to expect to stride further than our legs can reach, that is impossible and
contrary to Nature. Neither is it possible for man to rise superior to
himself and humanity. For he cannot see but with his eyes, nor grasp
more than he can hold.

We shall find that the new in this literature of our day of swift
change is perhaps a new significance given to the age- old question of
man and nature. Old faiths have been abandoned, new faiths are yet in
the making; but new emphasis has been put on the meaning of faith.
We know a little more of the essential needs of human nature, and
above all the crying creed of harmony and peace, both inner and outer.
Bitter disillusionment and despair have been the price of knowledge.
This knowledge is now being put to service.

Perhaps a Montaigne is more needed today than even a Dante.

But could there have been a Montaigne without first a Dante?
Could the great essayist have had his chastened faith in human nature
without first the vision of a Dante? Grant that the universe of Dante,
created for the glory of God and the edification and intimate home of
man, has nothing in common with the revelation of the new science.
Grant that even this our own physical universe, as physics tells its
story, is a thing that even our wildest imagination cannot picture. Grant
that there is no cosmic design in the story of human destiny, and that its
end will be as banal as a freezing star. Grant all this, and yet something
remains even more precious than all the great renunciations, man and
these his human attributes of greatness and folly. These were the
substance of Dante's vision, to which all else were attributes. And these
science cannot reason away, for it was by them that science came into
being. This the sceptic Montaigne knew, but before him came the man
of faith Dante.

Aldous Huxley, who as keenly as any, is sensitive to the pain of

the lost generation between the tragedy of two wars, points the way:
'There is no remedy except to become aware of one's interests as a
human being, and, having become aware, to learn to act on that
awareness. Which means learning to use the self and learning to direct
the mind.'
'Aware of oneself--aware of oneself as a human being'--is it not
precisely with this that each of these authors from Hauptmann to Mann
is chiefly concerned? For in a way the very disillusionment that has
come to science and history, disillusionment all the greater because of
the optimism of science in its youth, has willy-nilly thrown man back
on himself as perhaps never before. If the world of science is unplastic
and seems to have no consistency with the needs of human nature, if

This restless, creative, grotesque and wise, comic and tragic

human nature has been and still is the theme of great literature. Not
long ago the poet Bridges described the old- new ideal:


Strong-minded, strong-hearted, healthfully so at ease.

Our age will not be satisfied with an easy optimism, and prefers
this moral of Eliot Gerontion to the sonnet by Robert Bridges.

And then added a more detailed prescription:

In consequence as we have surveyed the works of some of its
leading authors, men who might be taken as types of the contemporary
mind, by far the larger number seem disillusioned and what once might
have been called pessimistic. The seeds of their malady--if we can call
their resentment against the commonplace an illness--were sown in the
decades (320)before the Great War. Those years were the aftermath of
the triumph of humanitarian liberalism of the nineteenth century, and a
natural reaction. The first war only strengthened in the minds of those
then in middle age the conviction that human nature and civilization
could not be accepted at face value, that at best human institutions
offered only a perilous security, and that the discovery of peace and
happiness, the first and last human adventure, may also be a quixotic
paradox. In consequence, most of our authors might well be described
as reading the moral of contemporary disintegration.

Who builds a ship must first lay down the keel

Of health, whereto the ribs of mirth are wed:
And knit, with beams and knees of strength, a bed
For deeds of purity, her floor and ceil.(319)
Upon her masts, Adventure, Pride, and Zeal,
To fortune's wind the sails of purpose spread:
And at the prow make figured maidenhead
O'er ride the seas and answer to the wheel.
And let him deep in memory's hold have stor'd
Water of Helicon: and let him fit
The needle that doth true with heaven accord:
Then bid her crew, love, diligence and wit
With justice, courage, temperance come aboard,
And at her helm the master reason sit.

Behind the objective naturalism of Gerhart Hauptmann's novels

and dramas there is always the passionate cry of the lonely creative
soul who finds himself distressed by his inability to return to the Eden
of primitive innocence and sensuous art. He has inherited the German
orthodox doctrine of conformity and its inhibitions and repressions; but
against this is the ever alert revolt of the creative imagination of his art.
The harmony of human nature, the joyous, spontaneous life his
imagination craves, for him can never be attained in a world as it is
today. This is the central theme of most of his novels and dramas; and
so Hauptmann, even when he celebrated his seventieth anniversary, is
the contemporary European turning his back upon Europe and
searching a Griechischer Frling he knows in his reason never existed.
What can be his attitude now that Hitler has come to sinister power?

The grief of our contemporary mind is that in our swiftly

changing institutions and faiths, as in a hurricane, it is only too easy to
be blown out of the course where needle readings are meaningless, and
the present confusion and blind will to survive banish for the moment
all thought of the future and the end of the voyage. Much, then, in the
works of our contemporary minds seems directed by the immediate and
almost unconscious will to survive, as long as the violence of the
hurricane emphasizes the contrast between man and the inhospitable
world in which he is forced to live. Wit, justice, courage, temperance,
and reason seem at times futile virtues to deal with situations that will
not recognize them:
. . . Think
Neither fear nor courage saves us. Unnatural vices
Are fathered by our heroism. Virtues
Are forced upon us by our impending crimes.
These tears are shaken from the wrath-bearing tree.

Not wholly unlike him is his French contemporary in age,

Andr Gide. Only Gide never, like Hauptmann, even for a moment
allowed himself to be drawn to the creed of naturalism and its objective
study of man in his environment. From the beginning he was a solitary,
like Rousseau, making a shrine of his own idiosyncrasies and a liturgy

of his service to his moods. He too is a lonely soul dedicated to the cult
of an insatiable moi, a deity that demands the complete sacrifice
(321)of all worldly obligations and responsibilities. Unlike Hauptmann,
Gide sought to make the sacrifice. More recently he has learned the
moderation that all must accept with age.

Humanity wears masks, is doomed by its very nature to assume

or accept the disguise prescribed by accident or circumstance. This is
the irrevocable human destiny from the beginning, and its highest
comedy is that it so rarely knows its fate, but instead accepts the mask
at its face value, and tries according to circumstance to act as though it
were real. That the mask worn yesterday differs from that worn the day
before or today makes no difference to this naive faith in its ultimate
reality. And we try to pluck what happiness we can in these jumbled
roles that life in its meaninglessness makes us play. What is the real
personality behind the kaleidoscope of shifting masks in this
masquerade ball of living, to this question this master psychologist
offers no answer, except this: the wise man is he who knows he too
wears a mask and thus can smile at the serious make-believe of others.
But with this contempt for human nature, or its avoidance by Proust
and others, is it any wonder that the way is made easy for the dictator
who would put it in chains?

But our process of disintegration has taken other directions than

the revolt against the commonoplace world that most accept at face
value. There have been those that have made a case against the
integrity of human personality. In point of time Proust was the first to
show that the only real moments in life were those accompanied by
deep sentient vision. These, because the blare of the present is so
complex and miscellaneous and irresponsive, he found only in
memory, memory released by some perhaps quite irrelevant sensation
of the present, unlocking the doors of the past, and flooding the present
with its treasures. These sentient moments to him were the only reality,
because they are timeless, and recoverable at will by those who possess
the key. They confer upon the possessor a species of immortality, when
the real personality, not the commonplace of every-day life, stands
revealed. Thus personality, instead of the statistical time table of days
and weeks and years as most conceive it, is a string of the radiant beads
of memory, each complete, perfect, and defying the statistical tyranny
of time. Proust's deep introspection opened up for those who have eyes
new visions of human nature. But at a cost, the loss of time and
continuity. Personality no longer has a plot, like a drama or novel, but
is a series of radiant episodes. But how skilfully, like an epicure, he
probes these to discover their latent flavor.

O'Neill cannot find it in his heart to fling at life the hollow

laugh of the cynic. But at the same time he knows well enough that
personality carries within itself the fatal charge that given the right
opportunity detonates in tragedy. Who can feel assured of his own
stability? Release the unexpected spring and, like a jack-in-a-box, what
strange, unpredictable, and contradictory personalities even the most
commonplace will disclose. Aghast at the strange interludes he
discovered, O'Neill once turned to the shoulder of traditional religion to
furnish a faith and a motive for life that alone can arrest the process of
disintegration. It is only this that can cleanse the mind of its perilous
stuff, and allow the motives of hope and love to prevail. It is not a
creed with him or a philosophical conviction; much rather it is an
instinct, lost since naive childhood, but again making its voice heard
across his errant years. It is a confession rather than a profession.

Though Proust thus denies reality to life accepted at face value,

he gained a certain pleasure in retiring into this world of re-echoing
memory. Pirandello on the contrary gained no pleasure from his insight
into the futile masquerade that he found life to be, none except the
cynic's hollow laugh of triumph in proclaiming his discovery to the
masquerading world, a pleasure at the same time masochist and sadist.
It seems purely an intellectual exercise, but below the hollow mockery
more than once one senses the suppressed pain.(322)

There is something so simple and persuasive about the oriental

mysticism of Tagore and so perfectly adapted to give(323)an
acceptable philosophy for this life that it seems paradoxical to include
him among those who see human life in its disintegration. The
luxuriant charm of his poetry, like the music of his voice to one who

has heard him and felt his power, hides the essential nihilism that is the
very basis of the philosophy of India. Where the Western mind has
admitted scepticism and suspended judgment, Indian philosophy since
Buddha has made the final gesture of denial. The West in consequence
can compromise with doubt and maintain its intellectual and moral
dignity. But with Maya, illusion, and Nirvana, complete extinction of
personality in the unassessable Infinite, the finite and illusory human
can draw up no protocols that have the slightest hint of reality. The best
that this inheritor of a long poetic tradition can say to a distressed and
bewildered age, when reduced to prose, is to acknowledge the illusion,
reduce life to the simplest and sweetest routine possible, and, turning
one's back upon the disagreeable and ugly, learn the selfless lesson of
love. If all life could be converted into an abode of peace, a
Shantinikatan, and if one always had the master's voice to rouse the
heart and stimulate the imagination--but the world today has Hitlers
and Mussolinis and martyrdoms of decency and liberty that loudly deny
they are illusory, and seem hopelessly beyond the ministration of
selfless love.

watch the disintegration of human nature in its conflict with reality,

none is more moving and exquisitely human than the philosopher-poet
who once tried to be also a man of the world and find his way home to
'Aware of one's interests as a human being'--it is because all of
these thinkers and creative poets are so painfully aware of some special
interest to the exclusion of others that may be quite as important, that
they fail in our confusion of tongues to find the utterance that will be
convincing as were once the proclaimers of the gospel that transformed
Europe. Each is concerned with his own painful discomfort. What shall
I do to be saved in a world that is hastening to its moral and aesthetic
disintegration, such is the question each asks, as he searches the cause
of his malady. Each in his way is a bewildered Noah, reading the signs
of the coming deluge, busy with the plan of an ark that may carry him
to safety, and shuddering with apprehension at the inadequacy of the
But though the design may be inadequate there has been at least
the one great compensation: one and all they have deepened our
knowledge of the needs and resources of human nature. With the magic
of their sensibility they have made clear even to the most obtuse that
human nature is a thing unique and rebellious against the threatened
triumph of banality, routine, or regimentation. They will not accept
anything less than excellence, whose standards shall be of one's own
creation. Though far less picturesque than their(325)romantic
predecessors, the Don Juans, Fausts, Prometheuses, Manfreds, and
Cains of a century ago, they are, each in his way, the creators of their
own universe, its advocates and judges. Nothing less than complete
sovereignty can bring them happiness, and because, like their romantic
predecessors, they find themselves in a world of triumphant banality or
falseness, they are from the outset doomed to defeat.

To turn from the mystic to a true-blue and Western sceptic is

like coming from the scented artifice of a conservatory into the
exhilaration of a frosty night and the stars. For the essences that George
Santayana would live with, if he can, are not unlike the stars on a
winter night. They gleam, but they give no warmth; they are points of
light, but have no substance visible to human sense; they illumine the
heavens from horizon to horizon, but have no points of the compass,
and offer little aid to one on a treacherous pathway. For Santayana,
when he doubted the reality of life and its appurtenances and gave
reality only to the essence of things, the ghosts of even Plato's ideas,
could find his happiness only(324)with the stars. One can greatly be
happy with the Milky Way as companion; but there comes a time when
one must give up this play and set about the commonplace business of
finding one's way home through the dark. This compromise with the
dark the poet-philosopher finds unsavory and tragic to make; for he
hates the ugliness and imperturbability of life, its unexpectedness and
brutalities; and none of the rules of the game with stars offer aid or
understanding. And yet of all those from Hauptmann to Santayana, who

There are on the other hand not a few who have resolutely
striven to discover a new harmony, which will take into account an
awareness of all man's interests as a human being. To them still as to
the poet Shelley, man can become 'good, great and joyous, beautiful

and free,' though at the cost of pain and discipline. In their novels or
poems they offer some hope, or suggest its conditions, that again
human nature may discover itself and peace.

Germany seemed hardly necessary to make the lesson obvious of the

potency of a spirit that animates and gives value to the members of an
organic group. But to save civilization and culture these must be Men
of Good Will. Recent history is making it painfully obvious that men
can be inspired by a will that is Satanic in its cynical contempt for
human nature and devotion to evil.

Conversion to a new creed came only recently to Aldous

Huxley and changed him from satirist to prophet. So startling was the
change that his Eyeless in Gaza became a best seller and his Ends and
Means not far behind in popularity. His remedy for a world now in the
fifth act of a tragedy, though new in method of application, savors of
the prescription of the world's great religious leaders, even of Gandhi
of India. Eradicate greed and make the fruits of benevolence prevail by
founding societies of friends. Huxley might almost be classed as a neoQuaker. And who is there that has not admired--from a distance--the
beautiful consistency of the Society of Friends? The world calls them
visionary: is Aldous Huxley on the quest of their vision?

Sholokhov has in two novels vividly portrayed the genesis and

exodus of the will that became Soviet Russia. It is the corporate state
that became the motive of religion for Russia, and the inspiration for
action. The story of how slowly this consciousness of a power that
surpasses all individual power, and is greater than the aggregate of all
the individuals, came to Russia in the pain of a war and the greater
bewilderment that followed is the story of the coming of a new
religion, the religion of the State. The State is a spirit, more real than
the individuals that compose it, and its service a liturgy that demands
man's whole endeavor. It is a state worthily founded, for it is made of
those that directly contribute to its health, the workers. The drones and
those who cannot(327)dedicate themselves to its welfare are ruthlessly
liquidated, as an act of public sanitation. It is interesting how literature,
even in states that preserve the idea of individual freedom, has
responded and taken sides until there are those that maintain there can
be no worthy book unless it is class conscious and is inspired by a
Communist or totalitarian mission.

In a search that covers the whole panorama of the Europe of our

generation Jules Romains casts a wide net to discover the Men of Good
Will from whom may radiate the influence that can restore sweetness
and light. But his search is based upon a scientific conviction that the
individual man, even the leader, is yet the incomplete human being.
Man discovers his full nature only in the aggregate of a community
of(326)which he is an organic part. This aggregate is an essence, a
spiritual power, even an inspiration and motive for life, such as no
unattached individual can ever discover in solitude. His idea is in
accord with some newer interests in biology; and he would apply our
newer knowledge to the study of human communities and their
influence upon behavior and happiness.

In Russia, in Germany, and to some extent in Italy, the State has

become the Church that claims the religious allegiance of the elect, the
sons and daughters of the congregation. Thus we seem to be at the
beginning of a new tradition. But there have been many who have
turned with ready faith to the long tradition that the nineteenth century
was on the point of rejecting, the tradition of the catholic, universal,
church. It and its creed, to these new converts, seem to offer the only
alternative to the new tradition of the totalitarian state and the
smothering of many of the deeper spiritual needs of man.

While Romains was brooding over this new means for the
regeneration of a Europe bewildered by war and its aftermath,
revolution after revolution showed what could be done by men en
masse. The Bolshevist party in Russia, a group devoted to one
unanimism, had scarcely settled down to make order out of the debris
in Russia when the Fascisti in Italy again showed the power of a
devoted community, the power of the unanimism of even a small
minority over the heterogenous and divided many. The Nazi success in

As T. S. Eliot and many others feel, when man's god is purely

secular, and the interest in his service only the gross economic and

political motives of life, the incitements to its service and its liturgies
tend themselves to become more and more 'gross and violent
stimulants,' that reduce the mind 'almost to a savage torpor.' Witness
the repeated purges, the 'liquidation' of the unregenerates, the
callousness, and now the unredeemed brutality of totalitarian war. The
state may be a god, but he is a god of evil--no better than the combined
motives of his high priest and his lowest worshippers. To do him
service his priests and prophets and soldiers must resort to the language
and actions of the hashish-inspired savage.

His God is by no means the omnipotent Jehovah of the old

tradition; and his world is far from the best of all possible worlds in its
progress and perfection. Evil is as potent as good, and stupidity and
crass presumption as potent as intelligence, perhaps more potent.
Against these it is the will of Deity to do continual battle that good and
reason may prevail. But he needs the co-operation of the chosen man,
and the mark of his choice is heightened intelligence and dauntless
purpose. The end of this warfare is the 'fulfilment of God' and the
'fructifying of many souls.' It is a glorious enterprise. Thus Thomas
Mann founds a Church Militant, like the Protestant reformers of an
early day, who(329)felt that they must come out and be separate, and
the sign of their calling they found in the unique inner voice.

The only alternative, some say, in this day when all stand on the
brink of State worship, is the Church, the tradition of Christianity. Its
gospel is one of peace. Its awareness, so it is argued, is of man's
deepest needs as a human being. And its great mystery of the
atonement is the mystery of the power and the scope of love. Its
discipline is of the whole(328)nature of man; pride of the intellect,
pride of the will, pride of passion, must be disciplined to a new
humility by the ever repeated atonement of the cross. Its postulates on
the nature of God and man and their relationship are necessary that man
may think clearly; its rule of life that man may live cleanly and inherit
the City of God. And as its great vision was once set forth in
compelling poetry by the world's greatest poet, that he might lead man
from a state of sin and danger to a state of blessedness, so again in this
later day, this vision of man's true nature may come again to a Church
regenerated and redeemed. So compelling is the faith of the new

A return to the tradition of disciplined individualism, and the

supreme value of the unique individual. It is high time. The victories of
science are all of them gained by those who would not accept the world
at face value. The great moral victories likewise are gained by the
separate individual who is convinced that he is allied with spiritual
powers that make for righteousness.
Such in brief are some of the main threads in the complicated
pattern that one might call the contemporary mind in this day of swift
change. It is serious, and its literature serious as perhaps never before in
human history. For this reason there has been little to distinguish it in
imaginative poetry; and where there has been poetry it has been
didactic rather than lyrical. It has discarded, perhaps as unworthy of its
seriousness, the imagery and dress of the old poetic tradition, preferring
to come nearer to the rhythm of speech and its idiom. It has preferred at
times even to be wilfully obscure and urge its reader to work to
decipher its meaning, rather than to impose upon its reader by
sweetness and charm. It has left the realm of nature and the rural scene
and become consciously urban, knowing more of the noise and
confusion of the street, the sweat of the factory, the din of the machine
shop, and the rattle of impending war, than the purling of streams and
the breath of the forest and mountains. Few poets have been able to
indulge the luxury of the pleasures of the imagination when the world
is marshalling for totalitarian war.

Against this community of Saints, who in their community

discover God, stands the eternal protestant, who can know God only
when he speaks to the individual conscience. For only as he discovers
God within can he also become aware of his full interests as a human
being. Here is an aristocratic tradition and individualistic, a faith for a
leader and breaker of idols. Instead of finding truth and life in the spirit
of a community, it there finds more often superstition and death. Of
such texture is the religion that Thomas Mann finds as the only possible
motive to do battle against the evils and illusions of our day.


See especially I believe, a symposium by various writers, Allen and


Is there a hope in a world thus distraught, with its physicians apparently

in as hopeless a confusion of tongues? Is it now too late? Must we at
last, with a gesture of despair, turn from idealists and thinkers and those
with imagination to the prose of the scientists who would consider the
ways of the ant and from the insect learn wisdom? Professor
Hogben(330), a biologist, carries an air of complete authority.* His
recipe is as simple and as ruthless as the totalitarian behavior of the
Nazi state, only deflected to more generous and humane ends. Turn the
problem of human happiness over to the biologists and psychologists
and their efficiency engineers, and, presto, there will be no more
problem. Is the answer quite so simple? What is happiness? Even the
latest New Deal, as each of its predecessors, has stumbled on this ageold question. How can it be secured? Least successfully, perhaps, as
Aldous Huxley guesses, can it be decanted from the retorts and testtubes of a scientist's laboratory. As we have seen in these chapters of
contradictory search, it is a vapor too etherialized and evanescent ever
to be captured in the net of any scientific formula.

See a definition of religion in a recent book by a psychologist:

'Religion, at bottom, is always the experienced frustration or failure of
human effort as human, together with the real possibility (believed in,
if not actually experienced or discovered) of such a relation with
superhuman reality as will enable the frustration to be overcome.' The
State as an idea and reality will serve and is serving as just such a
superhuman reality. See Sidney Herbert Mellom ,The Bearings of
Psychology on Religion. (331)
the millions of the New Religion of the State with the missionary zeal
of new crusaders proclaim its efficacy with tanks and bombs. The
apostles of the older faith in the traditional church are no less zealous,
though their appeal is by the meek voice of suffering humanity. One
can never quite forget the moving pathos of a recent Papal Encyclical.
The Church 'spreads its maternal arms towards the world not to
dominate but to save . . . What age has been, for all its technical and
purely civic progress, more tormented than ours by spiritual emptiness
and deep-felt interior poverty? . . . [The fault of the age is] contained in
those ideas which do not hesitate to divorce civil authority from every
kind of dependence upon the Supreme Being . . . and from every
restraint of a higher law derived from God as from its source.' This is as
official in its appeal as the encouraging shout of Hitler that the
offensive now begun will make history German for a thousand years.

Happiness and salvation for the individual, happiness and

salvation for the community, large and small, of which he is a member,
these are the two poles between which this search has wavered.
Happiness through individual effort, happiness through a larger faith in
some institution and creed, to which the individual can whole-heartedly
devote himself, these have been the motives of the quest. Faith in
oneself, faith in some religion, can one or the other of these be again
established? The religion may not be a supernatural one, but its need is
most keen when human efforts seem vain, and the individual longs for
a shoulder against which he can lean in his hour of defeat. Where can
such a shoulder be discovered?

Where in the midst of this battle is there room for quiet

reflection, which alone can assure the faith of the individual? As
individuals and nations gird themselves for the inevitable, rising en
masse to attack or defend, what hope is there for peace and freedom?
To a thoughtful imagination there is no need today for a dash of
cynicism to see the history of the future a pattern of ideologies in
conflict and its chapters marked by a succession of breathing spaces to
condition the new generation for the next round. Huxley in the Eyeless
in Gaza has this philosophy of history in a nutshell. 'All modern history
is a history of the Idea of Freedom from Institutions. It is also the

Perhaps never before in the history of the world has the issue
been made so obvious. From the region of literature and ideas the
conflict has been carried into politics and now


history of the Fact of Slavery to the Institutions.' It seems never so true

as today. What hope is there for faith in the individual and for peace
and freedom?

understanding of human nature, can serve in this final assessment, for

their human nature is only partial and impotent. For all of these in one
way or another are not realistic, or refuse the complete view of the
world and the nature of man. Hope, if(333)there can be hope, must find
its evidence in a complete realism, and acceptance of life as it is.

Faith in an institution which shall secure for humanity peace

and freedom? Is not Hitler's address to the German people couched in
this well-known formula? The gain of (332)freedom through the loss of
freedom. But like peace and freedom an institution is also only a state
of mind translated more or less indifferently into generous or intolerant
formulas, and can be no better than the individuals that are its devoted
soldiery. Its intolerance or its mildness, its savage cruelty or its genial
benevolence or its careless apathy, has everything in common with
those who minister in its temple. It lives with the ardent faith that
created it, it dies with its dying embers. If there is to be hope in the
institution it must find its first evidence in hope for the individual.

Montaigne in the closing darkness of another epoch of acute

distress was faced with the same human problem. Where could he
discover hope and peace? It was then as now a time of warring
institutions and intolerant creeds and a bitter cruelty that seemed to
deny all human virtue. Should he like others lift his eyes to the blessed
vision and accept the shoulder of a superhuman faith? There is no
passage in all literature more full of significance for our day, and yet
more difficult, than his simple turning from a superhuman aid that
might prove illusory to the only one on which he could rely--himself,
the free individual. We have seen how he chided the pagan philosopher
for his desire to throw the human burden on a divine shoulder. Here it
is again, in almost the last words he ever wrote:

If the hope can have any semblance to reality, it cannot be one

that denies the world, or science, or any of the ugliness and pain that is
our present lot. Shelley, called the visionary, is never more open-eyed
to the need than in the closing lines of his poem of optimism,
Prometheus Unbound.

A man who can rightly and truly enjoy his existence is

absolutely and almost divinely perfect.

To suffer woes that Hope thinks infinite;

To forgive Wrongs darker than death or night;
To defy Power, which seems omnipotent.

We seek other conditions because we know not how to

enjoy our own; and go outside of ourselves for want of knowing
what it is like inside of us. So it is no use raising ourselves on
stilts, for even on stilts we have to walk on our own legs. And
sitting on the loftiest throne in the world we are still sitting on
our behind.

Hope must be realistic. No escapist will serve humanity's turn in

this crash of two worlds, the physical and moral. No exquisite doctrine
of illusion, Maya, of the oriental mystic, with all of its fragrance of
poetry will other than defraud when humanity is stripped of illusion to
its shirt. No philosophic nihilism and poetic star play with essences of a
Santayana can restore man's faith in himself. Science has gone too far,
and played the major role in Western thought too long for the West to
turn on science and rend it as the creature responsible for the present
catastrophe. For science is only an instrument, and will prove
beneficent or baleful only as the individual who puts it to use is wise or
a fool. No Gide or Proust, much service as they have done to the

The most beautiful lives, in my opinion, are those which

conform to the model of common humanity, with order, but
with nothing wonderful or extravagant.
He will accept no 'pious wish but a vain one,' but will
look for hope only where its evidence is unmistakable:


I was already considering to which of my friends I could

commit a needy and ill-fated old age; after turning my eyes in
all directions I found myself stripped to my shirt. When a man
falls plumb, and from so great a height, it must be into the arms
of a strong and firm affection that is favoured by Fortune; such
an affection is rare, if there be any. In the end I saw that it was
safest to rely upon myself in my distress; and if it should so fall
out that Fortune was too cold in offering me protection,(334)to
entrust myself more to my own and fix my eyes and thoughts
more firmly on myself.

more free in a state, where he lives under a general system of law, than
in solitude where he is independent.'
THIS bibliography does not pretend to be complete. The books listed
are those that will be helpful in guiding a reader who wishes to
acquaint himself farther with the author named. There are first the
books of general interest which survey the subject as a whole. The
chief works of each of the authors mentioned are given. Only such
works as are distinctly minor or quite irrelevant are omitted. In case of
authors not English, the works are given first with their foreign titles,
followed immediately by the title of the English translation. These are
arranged in chronological order with the place and date of publication.
Finally there are reference books recommended that should be helpful.

On all occasions men are too ready to throw themselves

into other people's arms, to save their own, which alone are
reliable and powerful, if they can make use of them. Every man
rushes elsewhere and into the future, because no man has turned
to himself.
Montaigne's self-reliance was the result of as complete a survey
of human nature, inner and outer, as was ever made, and a synthesis of
all human faculties. He discovered peace and a chastened hope. Will
this age, with its larger regions needing survey, and its synthesis more
difficult than ever, find a similar serene assurance. We need a
Montaigne today, even more than a Dante. The mystical vision perhaps
may come later. Better to learn how to use this human nature we have
than to dream of the state of achieved perfection and eternal beauty.
Better now the workaday world where each individual can keep a
corner in his home and heart secure, than the vision of the rose of
heaven and the secret of the power that moves the sun and every star.
The blatancy of warring creeds is carrying the moral of humility. This
will bring also in its train a measure of hope--a modest one perhaps and
perilous--and of peace, such as this world can give--a peace that comes
of understanding. It will bring also freedom; for only that man is free,
as Montaigne understood freedom, who has surrendered himself to
reason and substituted calm and clear thinking for the twilight of
opinion and the tempest of passion. It will not be a sequestered virtue,
cherished only by retirement from the world. On the contrary--and here
in conclusion I quote Spinoza--'the man who is guided by reason is

Berge Andr, "'L'Esprit de la litrature moderne,'" Revue des deux
Mondes, 1929.
Bertaux F., A Panorama of German Literature (from 1871, to 1931)
trans. by J. J. Trounstine, New York, 1935. (Exceptional for a
Bettex A. W., The German Novel of Today, trans. by F. A. Reeve,
Cambridge, 1939.
Breton A., What is Surrealism?, London, 1936.
Chandler F. W., Modern Continental Playwrights, New York, 1931.
Daiches David, Poetry and the Modern World, Chicago, 1940.
----- The Novel and the Modern World, Chicago, 1939.
Gascoyne D., Survey of Surrealism, London, 1935.
Lalou Ren, Histoire de la Littrature Franaise Contemporaine, Paris,
Lemaitre G., Four French Novelists, Roust, Gide, Giraudoux, Morand,
New York, 1938. (Excellent. Contains a full bibliography.)

Manly J. M., and Rickert Edith, Contemporary British Literature, New

York, 1935. (An elaborate bibliography.)
Michaud Regis, Modern Thought and Literature in France, New York,
Putnam, Samuel, and others, editors, The European Caravan, New
York, 1931. (An anthology of some of the newer schools.)
Read H. E., Contemporary Literature, Form in Modem Poetry,
London, 1939.

Vivas E., "'Naturalism,'" Kenyon Review, 1941.

The Works of George Santayana, Triton edition, 14 vols. Limited
edition, New York, 1936-7.
Interpretations of Poetry and Religion, New York, 1900, 1922.
A Hermit of Carmel and Other Poems, New York, 1901.
The Life of Reason, 5 volumes, New York, 1905-6.
1. Introduction, Reason in Common Sense
2. Reason in Society
3. Reason in Religion
4. Reason in Art
5. Reason in Science
Three Philosophical Poets-- Lucretius, Dante, Goethe, Cambridge,
Little Essays Drawn from the Works of George Santayana, Logan
Pearsall Smith , editor, New York, 1921.
Soliloquies in England and Later Soliloquies, New York, 1922.
Character and Opinion in the United States, New York, 1924.
Lucifer, Cambridge, Mass., 1924.
Dialogues in Limbo, New York, 1926.
The Realm of Essence, New York, 1927.
Platonism and the Spiritual Life, New York, 1927.
Scepticism and Animal Faith, New York, 1929.
The Realm of Matter, New York, 1930.
The Genteel Tradition at Bay, New York, 1931.
Poems, New York, 1933.

-337Read H. E.,
Surrealism, London,
Reade A. R., Main Currents in Modern
Literature, London, 1935.
Stansbury M. H., French Novelists of Today,
Philadelphia, 1935.
Swinnerton Frank, The Georgian Scene, New
York, 1934. (Contains excellent pictures and also
a bibliograhy.)
Ward A. C., Twentieth Century Literature, 7th
ed., London, 1940.
The following are suggestions for those who wish to explore the trends
in contemporary philosophy. None of the books and articles is
Haldane J. B. S., Science and Every Day Life, London, 1939.
Joad C. E. M., Guide to Modern Philosophy, London, 1924.
----- Guide to Philosophy, New York, 1936.
----- Guide to the Philosophy of Morals and Politics, London, 1938.
Laird John, A Study in Realism, Cambridge, 1920.
Lippmann W., Preface to Morals, New York, 1929.
Mead G. H., Movements of Thought in the Nineteenth Century,
Chicago, 1936 (Chaps. 13, 14, 18).
Santayana George, Winds of Doctrine, New York, 1913.
Sullivan J. W. N., Contemporary Mind, London, 1934.
----- Limitations of Science, New York, 1933.

-338The Last Puritan, New York,

The Realm of Truth, New York,
The Realm of Spirit, New York,

Die Jungfern vom Bischofsberg, Berlin, 1907. Trans. as The Maidens of

the Mount.
Griechischer Frlling, Berlin, 1908.
Kaiser Karls Geisel, Berlin, 1908. Trans. as Charlemagne's Hostage.
Griselda, Berlin, 1909. Trans. as Griselda.
Der Narr in Christo, Emanuel Quint, Berlin, 1910. Trans. as The Fool
in Christ, Emanuel Quint, New York, 1911.


Ames Van Meter, Proust and Santayana, the Aesthetic Way of Life,
Chicago, 1937.
Edman Irwin, The Philosophy of Santayana, New York, 1936.
(Selections, invaluable to one who wants an introduction to Santayana's
Howgate G. W., George Santayana, London, 1938.
Ed. P. A. Schilpp, The Philosophy of Santayana, Chicago, 1940.

Das Drammatische Werk, an edition of his chief plays, two large
volumes, commemorating his seventeenth birthday. Berlin, 1932.
Dramatic Works, trans. and published in nine volumes. New York,
1929. (Unless otherwise stated his plays and dramatic poems appear in
this collected edition.)
Von Sonnenaufgang, Berlin, 1889. Trans. as Before Dawn.
Das Friedenfest, Berlin, 1890. Trans. as The Reconciliation.
Einsame Menschen, Berlin, 1892. Trans. as Lonely Lives.
Die Weber, Berlin, 1892. Trans. as The Weavers.
Kollege Crampton, Berlin, 1892. Trans. as Colleague Crampton.
Die Biberpelz, Berlin, 1893. Trans. as The Beaver Coat.
Hannele, Traumdichtum, Berlin, 1894. Trans. as Hannele in Poetlore,
Vol. xx.
Florian Geyer, Berlin, 1896. Trans. as Florian Geyer.
Hanneles Himmelfahrt, Berlin, 1897. Trans. as The Assumption of
Die Versunkene Glocke, Berlin, 1897. Trans. as The Sunken Bell.
Fuhrmann Henschel, Berlin, 1898. Trans. as Drayman Henschel.
Schluck und Jau, Berlin, 1900. Trans. as Schluch and Jau.
Michael Kramer, Berlin, 1900. Trans. as Michael Kramer.
Der Rote Hahn, tragic-comedy, Berlin, 1901. Trans. as The
Der Arme Heinrich, Berlin, 1902. Trans. as Henry of Aue.
Rose Bernd, Berlin, 1903. Trans. as Rose Bernd.
Elga, drama, Berlin, 1905. Trans. as Elga.
Und Pippa Tanzt, Berlin, 1906. Trans. as And Pippa Dances.

Die Ratten,
Berlin, 1911.
Trans. as The
Gabriel Schillings Flucht, Berlin, 1912. Trans. as
Gabriel Schilling's Flight.
Altantis, a novel, Berlin, 1912. Trans. as Altantis,
New York, 1912.
Der Bogen des Odysseus, Berlin, 1914. Trans. as The
Bow of Ulysses.
Der Ketzer von Soana, a novel, Berlin, 1918. Trans.
as The Heretic of Soana, New York, 1923.
Der Weisse Heiland, Berlin, 1920. Trans. as The
White Savior.
Indipohdi, Berlin, 1920. Trans. as Indipohdi.
Hirtenlied, dramatic, fragment, Berlin, 1921. Trans. as
Die Insel der Grossen Mutter, novel, Berlin, 1925.
Trans. as The Island of the Great Mother, New York,
Veland, Berlin, 1925. Trans. as Veland.
Des Grossen Kampffliegers, Landfahrers, Gauklers,
und Magiers Till Eulenspiegel, Abenteuer, Streiche,
Gaukeleien, Gesichte und Trame, Berlin, 1928.
Buch der Leidenschaft, 2 vols., Berlin, 1930. Trans. as
The Book of Passion, London, 1930.
Vor Sonnenuntergang, Berlin, 1932. Trans. as Before

Hamlet in Wittenberg, Berlin, 1935.
Fechter P., Deutsche Dichtung der Gegenwart, Leipzig, 1929.
----- Gerhart Hauptmann, Dresden, 1922.
Hale E. E., Dramatists of Today, New York, 1911.
Hlsen Hans V., Gerhart Hauptmann, Leipzig, 1927.
Lessing O. E., Gerhart Hauptmann in Masters in Modern German
Literature, New York, 1912.
Schlenther Paul, Gerhart Hauptmann, Berlin, 1922.
Soergel A., Dichtung und Dichter der Zeit, 3 vols., Leipzig, 1934.
Sulger-Gebing E., Gerhart Hauptmann, Leipzig, 1922.

La Symphonie Pastorale (Rcit), Paris,

1919. These two trans. as Two
Symphonies, New York, 1931.
Les Faux-Monnayeurs (Roman), Paris,
1925. Trans. as The Counterfeiters, New
York, 1927.
Numquid et Tu . . . ?, Paris, 1926.
Voyage au Congo, Paris, 1927.
Retour du Tchad (Suite du Voyage au
Congo), Paris, 1928. These two trans. as
Travels in the Congo, New York, 1937.
Si le grain ne meurt, Paris, 1929. Trans. If
It Die . . . , An Autobiography, New
York, 1935.
Les Nouvelles Nourritures, Paris, 1935.
Retour d' l'U.R.S.S., Paris, 1936.
Gosse E., Portraits and Sketches, London, 1912.
Fernandez R., Andr Gide, Paris, 1931.
Gouiran E., Andr Gide, Essai de psychologie littraire, Paris, 1934.
Lalou R., Andr Gide, Strasburg, 1928.
Lemaitre Georges, Four French Novelists, New York, 1938.
Pierre-Quint L., Andr Gide, sa vie, son uvre, Paris, 1933. English
trans. by D. M. Richardson, London, 1934.
Schwob R., Le Vrai drame d'Andr Gide, Paris, 1932.
Stansbury M. H., French Novelists of Today, Philadelphia, 1935.

ANDRE GIDE (1869- )
Gide A., Oeuvres Compltes, Paris, 1932-9.
Paludes (Sotie), Paris, 1895.
Les Nourritures Terrestres, Paris, 1897.
Le Promthe Mal Enchan, Paris, 1899. Trans. as Prometheus
Illbound, London, 1919.
Prtextes (Collection of essays, the most notable on 'Oscar Wilde' and
'Rflexions sur quelques points de littrature et de morale'), Paris,
L'Immoraliste (Rcit), Paris, 1902. Trans. as The Immoralist, New
York, 1930.
La Porte Etroite (Rcit), Paris, 1909. Trans. as Strait Is the Gate, New
York, 1924.
Dostoievsky, d'aprs sa Correspondance, Paris, 1911. Trans. as
Dostoevsky, London, 1926.

Maschre Nude, Collection of plays in Italian, 2 vols. in one, Milan,
Novelle per un Anno, Florence, 1922-39, 14 vols.
The Late Mattia Pascal, trans. into English, New York, 1923.
Each in His Own Way and two other plays, trans. into English, New
York, 1923.
The Outcast, a novel, trans. into English, New York, 1925.
Naked, trans. into English in T. H. Dickerson, Chief Contemporary

-340Les Caves du Vatican (Sotie),

Paris, 1914. Trans. as The
Vatican Swindle, New York,
Isabelle (Rcit), Paris, 1911.

Dramatists, New York, 1930.

Right You Are! (If You Think So), trans. into English in Moses, Dramas
of Modernism, New York, 1931.
Tonight We Improvise, trans. into English, New York, 1932.
Horse in the Moon, twelve short stories, New York, 1932.
As You Desire Me, trans. into English, New York, 1934.
The Naked Truth and eleven other stories, trans. into English, London,
Three Plays: Six Characters in Search of an Author, Henry IV, Right
You Are! (If You Think So), New York, 1934.
Better Think Twice About It and twelve other stories, trans. into
English, London, 1934.

Bell C., Proust, New York, 1929.

Brooks Van Wyck, Opinions of Oliver Alston, New York, 1941.
Dandieu A., Marcel Proust--sa rvlation psychologique, London,
Dugas L., La Mmoire et l'Oubli, Paris, 1929.
Ellis H., From Rousseau to Proust, New York, 1935.
Jckel K., Bergson und Proust, Breslau, 1934.
Krutch J. W., Five Masters, London, 1930.
Lemaitre Georges, Four French Novelists, New York, 1938.
Leon D., Introduction to Proust, London, 1940.
Moncrieff C. K. Scott, Marcel Proust, An English Tribute, London,
Pierre-Quint L., Marcel Proust, sa vie, son uvre, revised edition,
Paris, 1929. English translation, New York, 1927.
Stansbury M., French Novelists of Today, London, 1925.
Turquet-Milnes G., From Pascal to Proust, London, 1926.


Daniel-Rops, Henri, Carte d'Europa, Paris, 1928.
Starkie Walter F., Luigi Pirandello, 1867-1936, New York, 1937.
Vittorini Domenico, The Drama of Luigi Pirandello, Philadelphia,
"'Pirandello Confesses,'" Virginia Quarterly Review, Vol. I.

Nine Plays (includes his best), New York, 1940.
Beyond the Horizon, New York, 1920.

MARCEL PROUST (1871-1922)
A la recherche du temps perdu, Paris, 1913- 1922.
(For the English titles of his novels Remembrance of Things Past, see
page 114.)
A good two-volume edition of his Remembrance of Things Past was
published in New York, 1941.
Correspondence gnrale de Marcel Proust, 6 vols.; to 1935 published
by R. Proust and P. Brach; after 1935, S. Proust-Mante and P. Brach.
"'Hommage Marcel Proust,'" La Nouvelle Rvue Franaise, 1927.
Alden D. W., Marcel Proust and His French Critics, Los Angeles,
Ames Van Meter, Proust and Santayana, Chicago, 1937.

The Emperor Jones, Diffrent, The Straw, New York, 1921.

All God's Chillun Got Wings and Welded, New York, 1924.
Anna Christie, All God's Chillun Got Wings, Different, New York,
The Great God Brown, The Fountain, The Moon of the Caribbees, New
York, 1926.
Marco Millions, New York, 1927.
Lazarus Laughed, New York, 1927.
Desire under the Elms, The Hairy Ape, Welded, New York, 1928.
Strange Interlude, New York, 1928.
Dynamo, New York, 1929.
Mourning Becomes Electra, New York, 1931.
Ah, Wilderness!, New York, 1933.

Days Without End, New York, 1934.

Rhys Ernest, Rabindranath Tagore,

a biographical study, New York,


Clark B. H., Eugene O'Neill, the Man and His Plays, New York, 1929.
Krutch J. W., American Drama since 1918, New York, 1939.
Moses M. J., Dramas of Modernism and Their Forerunners, New York,
Sanborn R., A Bibliography of the Works of Eugene O'Neill, New
York, 1931.
Shipley J. T., The Art of Eugene O'Neill, Seattle, 1928.
Winther S. K., Eugene O'Neill, a critical study, New York, 1934.

Thompson E. J., Rabindranath

Tagore, Poet and Dramatist,
London, 1926.
Crome Yellow, New York, 1921. Reprinted London, 1936.
Antic Hay, New York, 1923.
Proper Studies, New York, 1927.
Point Counter Point, New York, 1928.
Those Barren Leaves, London, 1931.
Brave New World, New York, 1932.
Texts and Pretexts, New York, 1933.
The Olive Tree, London, 1936.
Eyeless in Gaza, New York, 1936.
Ends and Means, New York, 1937.
After Many a Summer Dies the Swan, New York, 1939.
Grey Eminence, A Biography of Father Joseph, the Right-hand man
and collaborator of Cardinal Richelieu, New York, 1941. (An excellent
study of religious mysticism and downright power politics. There is
more than a little light thrown by this work on some of our states of
mind today.)

Collected Poems and Plays, New York, 1913-37. (This collection is not
complete. It does not include The King of the Dark Chamber.)
Sdhan, The Realization of Life, New York, 1913.
Chitra, New York, 1914.
The Crescent Moon, New York, 1914.
The King of the Dark Chamber, New York, 1914.
Sacrifice and Other Plays, New York, 1917.
The Cycle of Spring, New York, 1917.
Personality, New York, 1917.
The Home and the World, New York, 1919.
Gitanjali, New York, 1920. (Not the first printing. It was this collection
that first brought him to the attention of the West.)
Broken Ties and Other Stories, New York, 1925.


Bloomfield Paul, Imaginary Worlds, or the Evolution of Utopia,
London, 1932.
Henderson A., Aldous Huxley, New York, 1936. (Contains a
Maurois Andr, Private Universe, trans. by H. Miles, London, 1932.
Niebuhr R., "'An End to Illusion,'" The Nation, Vol. 150, No. 26, June
29, 1940.


Lesny V., Rabindranath Tagore, trans. by G. M. Phillips with a
foreword by C. F. Andrews, London, 1939.
Murray Gilbert, East and West, League of Nations, 1935.
Radhakrishnan S., Eastern Religions and Western Thought, London,
1940. (An interesting discussion of Indian philosophy.)


Speech delivered by Adolph Hitler before the German Reichstag on

January 30, 1939, Washington, 1939.
Official translation of the speech delivered by Adolph Hitler before the
German Reichstag on April 28, 1939, Washington, German Embassy,
Speech delivered by Adolph Hitler in the Reichstag--and Germany's
proposal to Poland, August 31, 1939, Berlin, 1939,


Mort de Quelqu'un, Paris, 1911. Trans. as Death of a Nobody, New
York, 1914.
Les Copains, Paris, 1922. Trans. as The Boys in the Back Room, New
York, 1937.
Knock, Paris, 1924.
La Vie Unanime, a poem, Paris, 1926.
Psyche, trilogy: Lucienne, Le Dieu des Corps, Quand le navire, Paris,
1922-9. Trans. as The Body's Rapture, New York, 1933.
Les Hommes de bonne volont, Paris, 1932-41. Trans. as The Men of
Good Will, New York, 1937-41.

The number of books and articles on Hitler is legion. The following are
Adolph Hitler from Speeches, 1933-8, Berlin, 1938.
Bayles W. D., Caesars in Goose Step, New York, 1940.
Hackett F., What Mein Kampf Means to America, New York, 1941.
Haffner S., Germany: Jekyll and Hyde, trans. from the German, New
York, 1941.
Lewis W., The Hitler Cult, London, 1939.
Rauschning H., Hitler and the War, Washington, 1940.
----- The Voice of Destruction, New York, 1940.
Ziemer Gregor, Education for Death, New York, 1941.


Bidal M., Les Ecrivains de I'abbaye, George Duhamel, Jules Romains,
and others, Paris, 1938.
Cuisenier Andr, Jules Romains et Unanimisme, Paris, 1935.
Stansbury N. H., French Novelists of Today, Philadelphia, 1935.
Turquet-Milnes, Mrs. Gladys Rosaleen, Some Modern French Writers,
A study in Bergsonism, New York, 1921.
Walter Felix, Unanimism and the Novels of Jules Romains,
Publications of the Modern Language Association of America, 1936.




And Quiet Flows the Don, trans. by Stephen Garry, New York, 1934.
Seeds of Tomorrow, trans. by Stephen Garry, New York, 1935.
The Don Flows Home to the Sea, trans. by Stephen Garry, New York,


Mein Kampf . The German edition was published by Verlag Frz. Eher,
1925 and after.
The first translation, expurgated, London, 1933.
First complete translation unexpurgated, New York, 1939.
Another translation copyrighted by Houghton Mifflin, 1939, and
published by Reynal and Hitchcock, New York, 1939.

Caudwell Christopher, Illusion and Reality, New York, 1918.
Fox Ralph W., The Novel and the People, New York, 1937.
Proletarian Literature in the United States, edited by Joseph Freeman,
New York, 1935.
Proceedings of the American Writer's Congress, New York, 1935.

Address before the German Reichstag, January 20, 1934, Berlin, 1934.

Ickovicz M. Marc, La Litrature a la Lumire du Materialisme

Historique, Paris, 1929.
Lewis C. D., Mind in Chains, London, 1938.
London Kurt, The Seven Arts, trans. by E. S. Bensinger, London, 1937.
Read Herbert, Art and Society, New York, 1937.

Gorky M., Judge, a play in four acts,

trans. by M. Zakrevsky and B. Clark
, New York, 1924.
----- Fragments from My Diary,
New York, 1924.
----- Decadence, trans. by V.
Dewey, New York, 1927.
Patrick G. Popular Poetry in
Soviet Russia, London, 1929.
Six Soviet Plays, ed. by E. Lyons,
London, 1935.
Soviet Literature, an anthology,
ed. by G. Reavey and M. Slonim,
London, 1933.
Struve G., Soviet Russian
Literature, London, 1935.


Following is a selection of the more characteristic novels, poems, and
plays in Russian Soviet Literature that are available in English
Andreyev L., Waltz of the Dogs, trans. by H. Bernstein, New York,
----- Samson in Chains, trans. by H. Bernstein, New York, 1923.
----- Katerina, trans. by H. Bernstein, New York, 1923.
Artsybashev B. M., Jealousy, Enemies, The Law of the Savage
(drama), New York, 1923.
Coxwell C., 4 Russian Poems, London, 1929.
Deutsch, Babette, and Yarmolinsky A., Russian Poetry--an Anthology(
University Library), New York, 1927.
Four Soviet Plays, London, 1937.
Gorky M., Three of Them, trans. by A. Linden, London, 1931.
----- Other Fires, trans. by A. Bakshy, New York, 1933.
----- Reminiscences of Leonid Andreyev, trans. by Katherine Mansfield
and S. Koteliansky, New York, 1928.
----- On Guard, intro. by R. Prolland, New York, 1932.
----- Man Who Was Afraid, trans. by H. Bernstein, London, 1929.
----- Magnet, trans. by A. Bakshy, New York, 1931.
----- Foma Gordeyev, trans. by H. Bernstein, New York, 1928.
----- Bystander, trans. by B. G. Guerney, New York, 1930.
----- Through Russia: stories, trans. by C. J. Hogarth, New York, 1922.
----- Story of a Novel, and other stories, trans. by Marie Zakxevsky,
New York, 1925.
----- Lower Depths, drama in four acts, trans. by J. Covan, New York,

T. S. ELIOT (1888- )
Thoughts after Lambeth, London, 1931.
Selected Essays, 1917-32, New York, 1932.
The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, Cambridge, Mass., 1933.
After Strange Gods, New York, 1934.
Collected Poems, 1909-35, New York, 1936.
Murder in the Cathedral, New York, 1935.
Essays Ancient and Modern, New York, 1936.
The Idea of a Christian Society, London, 1939.
The Family Reunion, A play, New York, 1939.
East Coker, London, 1940.
The Dry Salvages, London, 1941.
Brooks Van Wyck, Opinions of Oliver Allston, New York, 1941.
Leavis F. R., New Bearings in English Poetry, London, 1932.
Matthiessen F. O., The Achievement of T. S. Eliot, Boston, 1935.



A Sketch of My Life, Paris, 1930.

Mario und der Zauberer, Berlin, 1930. Trans.
as Mario and the Magician, New York, 1931.
Joseph und seine Brder, Berlin, 1933. Trans.
as Joseph and His Brothers, New York, 1934.
Der Junge Joseph, Berlin, 1934. Trans. as The
Young Joseph, New York, 1935.
Joseph in gypten, Vienna, 1936. Trans. as
Joseph in Egypt( 2 vols.), New York, 1938.
Freud, Goethe, Wagner, New York, 1937.
The Coming Victory of Democracy, New
York, 1938.
Achtung Europa, New York, 1938.
Lotte in Weimar, Stockholm, 1939. Trans. as
The Beloved's Return, New York, 1940.
Die Vertauschten Kpfe, Eine Indische
Legende, Stockholm, 1940. Trans. as The
Transposed Heads, New York, 1941.


Maritain J., A Travers le Dsastre, New York, 1941.
----- Freedom in the Modern World, trans. into English, New York,
----- Humanisme Integral, Paris, 1936. Trans. as True Humanism,
London, 1936.
----- An Introduction to Philosophy, translation, London, 1930.
Gilson Etienne, The Spirit of Medieval Philosophy, trans. into English,
New York, 1936. (This is an excellent statement of the new Catholic
creed. It is not technical.)
THOMAS MANN (1875- )
Buddenbrooks, Berlin, 1901. Translated, New York, 1924.
Knigliche Hoheit, Berlin, 1909. Trans. as Royal Highness, New York,
Der Todd in Vending, Berlin, 1912. Trans. as Death in Venice, New
York, 1925.


Eloesser A., Thomas Mann, Mensch und Werk, Berlin, 1925.
Hamburger Kthe, Thomas Mann und die Romantic, Berlin, 1932.
Havenstein W., Thomas Mann, der Dichter und Schriftsteller, Berlin,
Lessing O. E., Thomas Mann, New York, 1912.
Slochower H., Thomas Mann's Joseph Story, New York, 1938.
----- Three Ways of Modern Man, New York, 1937.
Weigand H. J., Thomas Mann's Novel, Der Zauberberg, a study, New
York, 1933.

-347Tonio Krger, Berlin,

1914. Trans. with Death
in Venice, New York,
Herr und Hund, Gesang vom Kindchen,
Berlin, 1918. Trans. as A Man and His Dog,
New York, 1930.
Goethe and Tolstoi, Speech, Berlin, 1923.
Included in Three Essays, New York, 1929.
Der Zauberberg, Berlin, 1924. Trans. as The
Magic Mountain, New York, 1927. (A
Stockholm edition, 1939, has a new and
valuable preface.)
Bemhungen, Essays, Berlin, 1925. Included
in Past Masters, New York, 1933.

Aeschylus, 136, 137
Ames, E. S., 197
Anglo-Catholics, Creed of, 271
Aristotle, on harmony, 25

Arnold, Matthew, 269

Babbitt, Irving, 268
Balzac, Honor, 244
Bergson, Henri, 62, 196; Time and Free Will, 109; Creative Evolution,
Bhagavat-Gita, 149, 151, 163, 191
Bible, 232
Bridges, R., 319
Buddha, 16; Buddhism, 188
Bunyan, John, 61; Pilgrims Progress, 182
Capek, Karl, War with the Newts, 171
Carlyle, Thomas, 223; Heroes and Hero Worship, 236; Latterday
Pamphlets, 236; Sartor Resartus, 200, 236
Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland, 62
Cervantes, Don Quixote, 295
Chosen people, doctrine of the, 224
Church, return to the, 264
Commedia dell' Arte, 82, 84
Communism, 240
Community, idea of the, 197
Dante, 5, 19, 89, 119, 187, 203, 247, 261, 263, 265, 273, 281, 285, 319
Discipline, need of, 265
Dostoevsky, Feodor M., 5, 244, 248
Duhamel, G., 199
Dumas, A., 243
Duns Scotus, 263
Einstein, Dr. Albert, 307
Eliot, T. S., 146, 261 ff., 328; and Dante, 267, 274; Atonement,
Sacrament of the, 289; A contemporary poet, 267; Difficulties in, 226;
Poetry of, 275; Secular, danger of the, 274; Sin of Pride, 288; After
Strange Gods, 274, 283; Ash-Wednesday, 278, 282; Burnt Norton, 278;
The Dry Salvages, 278, 279; East Coker, 278; A Family Reunion, 290;
Gerontion, 267, 276, 281; The Hollow Men, 106, 266, 267, 276, 280;
Murder in the Cathedral, 278, 284; The secular in, 285; Prufrock, 267,
276; The Rock, 278; The Waste Land, 106, 267, 276, 281
Emerson, R. W., 245
Euripides, 86, 136, 137; Iphigenia at Aulis, 112

Everyman, 182
Expressionism, 85
Faith, Need of, 13
Faust, 170
Fernandez, Raymond, 121
Fox, Ralph, The Novel and the People, 241
Freud, Dr. Sigmund, 9, 112
Galsworthy, John, 294
Gandhi, M. K., 24, 188, 194

Gide, Andr, 59 ff., 79, 104, 120,

186, 259, 260, 321; Eternity,
experience of, 73; Mysticism of,
73; Religion, demand of, 67;
Personality, problem of, 64;
Instinct, 63; Moment, sentient,
power of, 63; lan vital, 63; The
Counterfeiters, 75; If It Die, 62,
64, 68, 71; The Immoralist, 66, 68;
Les Nourritures Terrestres, 63, 66;
Numquid et Tu, 67; Strait is the
Gate, 67; The Vatican Swindle, 74
Gilson, Etienne, 263, 265
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, 5, 25,
38, 80, 129, 194, 203; Faust, 59,
294, 296, 307
Gorky, M., 42, 248
Greeks, the, 54
Hamlet, 98, 104
Hamsun, Knut, xi, xii
Hauptmann, Gerhart, 37 ff., 321;
Christianity in, 50; Compared to
Shakespeare, 39; Greece,

conception of ideals of, 50; Life of

Christ, interest in, 51; Pagan
simplicity in Spring in Greece, 54;
Paganism in The Heretic of Soana,
53; Rousseau, influence of, 39; The
Apostle, 51; The Assumption of
Hannele, drama of the new
psychology, 40; Before Sunset, 39,
55; Before Sunrise, 39; The Bow of
Ulysses, 48; The Fool in Christ, 50;
The Heretic of Soana, 38, 50;
Gabriel Schillings Flight, 37, 44;
Meerwunder, 56; The Sunken Bell,
38, 44; the artist and society, 45;
problem of convention, 45; The
Weavers, a sociological document,
Hegel, G. W. F., 239
Henderson, Philip, The Novel
Today, 244
Heraclitus, 62
Hitler, A., 215; Mein Kampf, 219;
Mein Kampf as bible and text book,
221; Mein Kampf, a confession and
dedication, 220; 'Antiparliamentarian,' 224; Der Fhrer,
223; Religion, theory of, 227;
Volkische Staat, doctrine of, 226
Hogben, Professor Lancelot, 330
Homer, 203, 292; Odyssey, romance
and realism in, 48
Housman, A. E., 8
Hulme, T. F., 272
'Human rights,' theory of, 227
Humanism, new, 270
Huxley, Aldous, 122, 169 ff., 194,
282, 326; Experience, compensation

for, 177; Life, the perfect, 178;

Love, as motivating force, 187;
Mysticism of, 181; Personality,
problem of, 186; Science, Huxley's
knowledge of, 174; After Many a
Summer Dies the Swan, 189; Brave
New World, 175, 209, 259; Chrome
Yellow, 175; Ends and Means, 174,
181, 185, 189, 190; Eyeless in Gaza,
181, 190
Huxley, Julian, 178
Huxley, T. H., 175
Ibsen, H., 80, 86, 87; The Master
Builder, 56
India, life in, 153
Isaiah, 220
Jeremiah, 194
Joyce, James, xi, 109; Flow of
consciousness, 110; Ulysses, 267
Kalidasa, 158
Keats, John, 22, 25
Kipling, R., 225
Koran, 221, 227, 232
D. H., 186
Lenin, V. I. U., 188, 209, 215, 226, 239
Liberalism, 204; traditional meaning of, 235
Literature, Marxian theory of, 242; as propaganda, 246
Lucretius, 92
Luther, M., 293
Mahabharata, 151, 158
Mann, Thomas, 56, 146, 291 ff., 329; Art and Music, place
of, 298; Death, the cult of, 297, 308; Time, ideas on, 299,
308; Buddenbrooks, 293, 294; Death in Venice, 293, 294,

298; The Magic Mountain, 292, 293, 295, 296; Joseph and
his Brothers, 305, 312; Joseph in Egypt, 310; Tonio
Kroeger, 293, 294
Maritain, J., 263, 289
Marx, K., 188, 209, 226, 239
Maurras, Charles, 273
Maya, doctrine of, 150, 324
Middle Ages, return to, 263
Milton, John, 5, 203, 247
Modernism, 4, 7
Mohammed, 220, 225
Montaigne, 203, 235, 274, 290, 316, 334
More, Sir Thomas, Utopia, 176
Mussolini, Benito, 215
Nature in Indian Literature, 154
Neo-Thomists, 263
Newman, Cardinal, 274
Newton, Sir Isaac, 306
Nibelungenlied, the doctrine of, 222
Nietzsche, Friedrich, 55, 223, 231; Birth of Tragedy, 143;
Thus Spake Zarathustra, 128, 141
Nirvana, doctrine of, 150, 157, 324
Odets, Clifford, 4
O'Neill, Eugene, 125 ff., 170, 323; Central theme in, 130;
Immortality, 141; Influence of Freud, 132; Masks, use of,
128; Religious faith, place of, 140; Ah, Wilderness, 128;
Days Without End, 128, 143, 145; Desire Under the Elms,
127, 132, 133; Dynamo, 126, 128; The Emperor Jones,
127, 131; Great God Brown, 127, 143; The Hairy Ape, 127,
132; Lazarus Laughed, 128; The Moon of the Caribbees,
127; Mourning Becomes Electra, 127, 130, 133, 136;
Strange Interlude, 127, 130, 133, 134
Pantheism in Indian thought, 155
Pascal, Blaise, 12, 75, 274
Pessimism, 12
Pirandello, Luigi, 79 ff., 104, 134, 322; Personality,
question of, 90; Each in his Own Way, 94; Henry IV, 87,

96; Naked, 95; Right You Are! If You Think You Are, 93;
Shoot! The Notebook of Serafino Gubbio, Cinematograph
Operator, 89; Six Characters in Search of an Author, 92;
The Trap, 80; Trovarsi, 83
Plato, 16, 26, 77, 158, 191; Phaedo, 17; The Republic, 17;
Symposium, 17, 160
Prezzolini, Giuseppe, 91
Propaganda and Literature, 240
Protestant tradition, the, 293
Proust, Marcel, 101 ff., 300, 322; Art and autobiography,
122; Difficulties in, 107; Imagery in, 108; Memory in, 110;
Moment, the eternal, 118; Personality, problem of, 102,
103, 120; Time, problem of, 103; The Guermantes' Way,
115; The
-351Proust, Marcel
116; Swann's
Way, 114
Psychology, the new, 9
Radhakrishnan, S., Eastern Religions and Western
Thought, 156, 191
Ramayana, 158
Rauschning, H., Hitler Speaks, 228
Revolution and literature, 240
Rig Veda, 154
Rolland, R., Jean Christophe, 209
Romains, Jules, 193 ff.; The Death of a Nobody, 205;
Manuel de Dification, 206; Men of Good Will, 3, 199,
205, 209, 224, 243; Compared with Sholokhov's
novels, 258, 261, 272, 326; Petit Introduction
l'Unanimisme, 206; The Proud and the Meek, 212;
Psyche, trilogy, 202; Lucienne, Le Dieu de Corps,

Quand le Navire (The Body's Rapture), 206, 207, 208;

Unanimism, 199, 200; Verdun, 216
Rousseau, J. J., 82; doctrine of Original goodness, 204
Saint Anthony, 55
Saint Augustine, 68, 187, 220, 263;On memory, 119
Saint Bonaventura, 263
Saint Francis, 55, 191, 194
Saint Joan, 220
Saint Thomas, 187, 263
Santayana, George, 15 ff., 324; 'Animal faith,' necessity
of, 20; Arts, place of the, 21; Art, as revelation of life,
21; Essences, doctrine of, 23; Hamlet of the 20th
century, 15, 30; The sceptic, 19; Science, place of, 21;
The Last Puritan, 16, 20, 26, 133, 268; Theme of, 28;
Lucifer, 27; The Life of Reason, 16; Scepticism and
Animal Faith, 16; Science, 11; the new, 93; place of,
Shakespeare, 60, 113, 203
Shelley, P. B., 4; Prometheus Unbound, 241, 315, 333
Sholokhov, Mikhail, 239 ff., 327; Impersonal attitude
of, 258; 'Socialist Realism' in, 246; And Quiet Flows
the Don, 246, 252; Seeds of Tomorrow, 246, 249
Smith, Sidney, 50
Socialist Realism, 240
Socrates, 54
Sophocles, 86, 136, 137, 203, 269; Oedipus at Colonos,
Spinoza, 335
Stalin, Joseph, 240
Steed, Wickham, Our War Aims, 219
Steinbeck, John, xi, 4
Strindberg, August, 80, 85, 86, 127
Super-organism, the, 195
Swift, J., Gulliver's Travels, 175
Tagore, Rabindranath, 149 ff., 188, 194, 300, 323;
Symbolism in, 157; Chitra, theme of, 159; The King of
the Dark Chamber, 163; Sanyasi, or the Ascetic, 161;

Sdhan, 156
Technology, danger of, 171
Thackeray, W. M., 244; Vanity Fair, 208
Tolstoi, Count Leo N., 5, 194, 244; Anna Karenina,
182, 259; War and Peace, 209, 253
Tradition, search for, 262
Trotsky, L. D., 239
Unanimism, 199; Literary school of, 200
Upanishads, 155, 157, 166
Ulysses, 109
-352Vedas, the,
Virgil, 292
Vision, 306
Wesley, John, 263
Wheeler, Professor W. M., Foibles of Insects and Men,
Whitman, Walt, 200, 245
Wolfe, Thomas, xi, 4
Woolf, Virginia, 109
Wordsworth, William, 199
Yoga, doctrine of, 167
Zola, E., 86; Le Dbcle, 247, 248; Naturalism in, 41