Such melancholy may come from thencontinent’s bloody past—both Indiannand Spanish—which penetrates thenwhite or Creole descendants’ souls with anmixture of overbearing fate and universalncruelty beneath the impassive stare ofnstony gods and serpentine spirits. This isnalso true of the genuine half of GarcianMarquez’s world. Artificiality, not to saynphoniness, enters when the twice-ancestralndrama is filled with new content. Thenstagt is set for cyclopean edifices lookingndown on sun-drenched sacrifices—butnthe play is about minityrants, lazy policemen,nindolent populations. Somozajustnisn’t Oedipus Rex. Thus, that is thensource of the malaise in Garcia Marquez ‘snoeuvre: the discrepancy between thenform, which penetrates under the skin,nand its paltry “revolutionary” content.nGarcia Marquez claims he’ll not writenuntil Pinochet falls from power; he, itnseems, can afford the luxury—he is, afternall, part of the left-intellectual jet set—nof banalizing his real talents as a stylistnand storyteller. Nobody will hold hisnchoice of topics against him, quite thencontrary. The Nobel Prize could servenhim as a warning; he will take it as an encouragement.nMinus the political contentnthat jeopardizes his talent, minusnalso the component of the real whichnreceives short shift in his work, GarcianMarquez’s world is extraordinarynthrough the luxuriance of fantasy. Thisnfantasy is less Romanesque than filmlike.nThe merging of entire tableaux, thenvanished then reappearing characters,ntheir slow-motion life as if seen throughnthe glass of an aquarium, the comicnwhich everywhere mingles with thentragic would all lend themselves well tontheater or screen. In fact, while readingnhim, one recalls Antonin Artaud, thenmad theorist of the stage whose alreadycloudednspirit struck sparks at the contactnof Khmer dance and Aztec sun worship:nthe “theatre of cruelty,” he called it.nGarcia Marquez, the toy judge of crimesnagainst humanity, becomes genuinenwhen he recreates, albeit often gratuitously,nthe cruelty that pervades segmentsnof his continent. He is at his best whennhe sticks ideology under the chair, that is,nwhen the episodes are not transparentlynpolitical, and when he allows his style tonmeander through inextricable jungles:none does not quite know whether the realnjungle or that of man’s condition. Thosenpages where giants, monsters, andnprimeval nature assume shapes andnbecome men and women may be said tonjustify the Nobel committee’s choice. DnLetter from Paris: Missing La Civilisation Vibrantenby E. Stake Salisburyn”Les civilisations sont mortelles, “nwrote Paul Valery, and only a few believednhim in his time. The French civilizationnseemed immortal, invincible. Itnmight suffer occasional and temporarynsetbacks— “la boucherie ” of the FrenchnRevolution, military or political defeatsn—but it kept re-emerging in all itsncultural robustness unaffected by selfdoubt,nvigorous in custom, manner, materialnexcellence, and refinement, pow-nMr. Salisbury is a globetrotter from WinnebagonCounty.n4 4 ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^nChronicles of Culturenerful in its petty moral platitudes andnconventions as well as in its sophisticatednhypocrisies. The French bourgeois—nselfish and relatively more intelligentnthan any burgher of the Western worldn—was affluent and perversely tolerant;nthe nation was chauvinistic but open to ankind of insincere, duplicitous, and smartaleckynpluralism which maintained, duringnthe 19th century, the cliche thatnFrance is the motherland oiany civilizednand enlightened inhabitant of thenplanet. Living it up, worldliness, andnelegance were still indomitably Parisian,ninseparable from Frenchness.nWhen did it all vanish? France used tonnnknow how to rise from crushing defeats,nbut somehow this time it does not. Perhapsnone should not lay all the diminishmentnat the doorstep of France: perhapsnall of Europe is figuratively down on itsnspiritual knees, but nowhere is it so poignantn(at least for me) as in France.nOne passes those early 1920’s officialnbuildings decorated on the top with fournheavy statues of the victors of World WarnI: a 7x)uave, a marin de guerre, lipoUu,nand a cuirassier (xhs:^ still fielded them inn1914). They all are sculpted in the obesenvoluminousness of Art Deco monumentalismnand they remind us that France, atnthat time, was still a bona fide politicalnpower which set the tone for the postwarnEuropean reality. Where did it go astray?nParis in the late 30’s was imposingly cleannand well ordered, the Popular Front’snreign notwithstanding; it conveyed annaura of wealthy, arrogant dignity, a selfconsciousnessnof its own preciousness.nThen, everything was best in Paris: thenart cinema, the bistros, the Metro, thencondition of the historical landmarks,nthe cuisine, the luxury cars, the intellectualnferment. In today’s Paris, here andnthere bits of that exquisite, distinguishednheritage flash out from the urbannthicket: the sparklingly maintainedn18th-century courtyards, the bellenepoque furnishings of some restaurants;nyet one is haunted by the question: Whynand when did it all go wrong?nIt’s not easy to answer, but the feelingnthat something has gone sour is oppressivelynpalpable, even in the presence ofnthe most impressive vestiges of the past.nOne cannot escape awe when passing thenearly baroque splendor of Institut denFrance, or the Eglise de St. Sulpice: Inam always overwhelmed by the uniquenFrench symbiosis of grandeur and finesseninherent in that architectural epoch. So,nas always, I entered the church: but thisnvisit proved to be an extraordinary experience,nan exercise in peculiar melancholy.nThe church was full of elderly peoplenof both genders, obviously a shabby,ngenteel flock whose faces and clothingnhad known better times. It was a congregation,nor sodality, meeting and then