341 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnGlass Menagerie, seeing in her plightnonly the Williamses of Enright Avenue,nSt. Louis. After all, wasn’t Williams anhomosexual? Didn’t he have an insanensister, a domineering mother, and anphilandering father? Poor man. Strangenwork. But what does it have to do withnus? Spoto’s failure to deal with thisnquestion ultimately makes The Kindnessnof Strangers, like Williams’ plays,ntrivial. ccnCarl Curtis is assistant professor ofnEnglish at Liberty University.nRevolution andnIts Discontentsnby Stephen L. TannernConrad Detrez: A Weed for Burning;nTranslated by Lydia Davis; HarcourtnBrace Jovanovich; San Diego.nWinner of France’s Renaudot Prize,nthis autobiographical Bildungsroman isna first-person narratie of a young mannfrom a Belgian village who begins as anseminarian and ends as a disillusionednanarchist. Under the direction of hisnwidowed mother and the village priest,nhe enters the seminary in Louvain,nwhere his study of the changing valuesnreealed in ecclesiastic history makesnhim a skeptic. Desiring to serve God inna practical way, he emigrates to Brazil,nhoping to do some kind of lay missionarynwork. Beginning with a Catholicsponsorednlabor movement, he graduallynbecomes embroiled in the pro-Castronre’olutionary activities of the mid-60’s.nNaive about his religion, he is equallynnaie about politics. Circumstancesnand acquaintances, rather than examinednprinciples, shape his actions. He isnultimately arrested, cruelly tortured,nand deported to Paris.nThe leftist habits acquired in SouthnAmerica translate in Paris into participationnin student protests and revolutionarynantics. He writes a book onnguerrilla warfare, but because thenyoung Paris revolutionaries have infectednhim with anarchism, his leftist organizationnfinds fault with the book andnexpels him. At 28, aged much beyondnhis years b’ homo- and heterosexualnpromiscuity, physical torture, and then, loss of self-identity caused by revolutionarynactivity, he returns to his villagenhome, left vacant at the death of hisnmother. There he simply lies down andndies. “My soul had learned everything,”nhe concludes. “It had come tonknow that God was dead, that revolu­ntion crushed the men who made it, thatnlove was impossible. It had paid thenhighest price to depart.”nNothing palliates the gloomy visionnexcept the motif of plants and gardening.nThe narrator begins and ends surroundednby the jungle of houseplantsncultiated by his mother. Gardensnand gardening—representing peace,ngrowth, and fertility—pro’ide refreshingncontrast to the garbage and pollutionnlinked with the war and inhumanitynthat dominate this sparse but vividnnoel.nAs engaging as the narrative is, thenconcluding statement is melodramatic.nThe narrator has not learned eerything;nin fact, he has learned very little.nThe transit from religion to revolutionnto anarchism to suicidal disillusionmentnhas been smooth and inevitablenbecause no obstacles of discipline,nthoughtfully embraced principles, ornprofound commitment to other individualsnhae hampered the way. A knowledgenthat God is dead can be poignantnonly if one has had a vital knowledge ofnGod alive. Perhaps love is impossiblenfor those who seek it in bisexual orgiesnduring Brazilian carnial; yet, millionsnhave found it elsewhere. The tumidnconcluding statement may evoke pitynfor a ictim of his own naive goodnintentions, but it cannot be takennseriously as a verdict on the humanncondition. ccnStephen Tanner’is professor of Englishnat Brigham Young University.nPriam’s Daughternby E. Christian KopffnChrista Wolf: Cassandra: A Novel andnFour Essays; Farrar, Straus & Giroux;nNew York.nChrista Wolf is an East German novelistnwho delivered several lectures at thenWest German University of Frankfurtnon a work-in-progress focusing on thenTrojan seeress, Cassandra. Cassandransurvived the sack of Troy to be takennback to Greece by Agamemnon, only tonbe slain with him by his wife,nClytemnestra. Her novella on thisntheme and four essays were publishednseparately in West Germany and arenhere reunited, translated by Jan VannHeurck. Cassandra is the story, basednon Homer, Aeschylus, Herodotus, andnbooks on Greek mythology and religion,nof a young girl who sees herncountry embark on a suicidal war. Hernvocation as Prophetess helps keep hernnnsane, even as she sees her people destroymgnthemselves. In the end she toonmust die, but she knows that her lover,nAeneas, will save the remnant of hernpeople. The significance of all this for ancreative German woman who livednthrough the 30’s and 40’s and beyondnunder Nazism and Communism seemsnfaidy clear.nBut puzzlement follows in readingnthe essays included in the book. Twonare parts of a travelogue of a trip tonGreece, where the figure of Cassandranbegins to haunt Wolf; then comes andiary and a letter to a friend. There isnmuch conventional chatter here aboutnnuclear war, oppression of women, andnthe fear that science is man-created andntherefore inaccessible to any womannnot willing to desex herself Wolf tellsnus that Cassandra is to be a feministnfable. Since Cassandra is thrown intonprison for foretelling the fall of Tro andnso opposing the Trojan War and not fornany distinctively feminine traits, onlyntwo conclusions suggest themseKes: eithernthe Intentional Fallac> is alie andnwell in East Germany, or Wolf is purposelyndisguising her real intention in anprotective leftist haze.nAt the heart of the essas lies anprofound nostalgia for a past that nevernexisted, a nostalgia of the sort usuallynthought of as a conservative malady.nWolf visits the island of Crete with twonAmerican feminists, and there they discovernthe land of hearf s desire, prehistoricnMinoan Crete: “So, once upon antime there really was a country wherenwomen were free and equal to men.nWhere women produced the goddesses.n(Many male archaeologists and classicalnscholars find it remarkably difficult tonrecognize, and then to acknowledge,nthat all early divinities are female;noften, I think, they prefer not to readnEngels or Bachofen or Thompson ornRobert Graves.)” Prefer may be the motnjuste. The only scholar on this list isnBachofen, whose brilliant speculationsnon Mutterrecht or “matriarchy” havenbeen conclusively refuted by a centurynof scholarship, conducted by both mennand women. Of course, Wolf’s favoritesnare the pious Marxist fundamentalistnGeorge Thompson and the fun butnabsurd Graves. She, a German, prefersnto quote and paraphrase these loonynEnglishmen (along with Velikowsky),ninstead of the great German scholars ofnthe ancient world.nThere is no reference to EduardnMeyer, whose masterful History of Antiquitynis available in paperback innGerman. Nor is there any mention ofnthe greatest living student of Greeknreligion, the brilliant classicist Waltern