teres: and God, convinced that realnUte and a life of faith cannot be livednsimultaneously. “The Church frightensnher.” Love is no solution to the humannproblem: onlv duty can sustain one. Innan age characterized bv the failure oinall “Grand Ideas.” small works ot personalnconscience are the sole alternative.nAll ritual and symbol are false, standingnfor nothing. The good deed in and ofnitself is the onlv source of authontv.nAnd loneliness is man’s portion. WhennNatalie goes to church to light a candlenfor her. she wonders if Hermine willnapprove. In anv event, church is notnwhat Natalie wants. She cannot prav.nno matter how much she vearns tor thenlife 01 the spirit. It is. for the timenbeing, only curious comfort that shentinds in her bedside Kierkegaard. Hisn”lonelv lovely” leap of faith is “toonbroad a jump for her unathletic self.”nThe idea appeals to her. the readernshould note, because it is impossible tonachieve. Her religious woolgathering isngiven a striking objective correlativenin the hospital.nHermine shares her room with anMrs. Aliller who also has a dutiful visitor,nWilhelmina. They talk and laugh.nWilhelmina handles her friend withncare and love, physically touching her.ncrooning to her as if she were a babv.n”I’m talking to God. praying for thesenhere women, these poor lambs. Pravernis the only thing which helps, Alissus.”nAll Natalie can do for her grandmothernis smooth the blanket, “no more thannthat.” Much later, thinking of Wilhelmina’snadvice, Natalie, not knowingnany prayers, thinks but cannot say outnloud a poem:n”We will die. &. the evidencenis: Nothing after that. (Hermine.’InHoney, we don’t rejoin.nThe thing meanwhile. I suppose,nis to be courageous & kind. (Laszlo? i”nThe question remains as to whethernor not this bleak secular humanism isnin any way finally satisfactory. Natalienknows that her grandmother’s philoso­nphy is not satisfactorv. After searchingnu lifetime, atter giving up God. Herminen”never got close ” to an answer. Natalienis not comforted by the belief “that thosenyou take into your memory continue tonlive on in you,” and this is as far asnHermine s “inquiry into the spirit” hadntaken her. “It is not far enough fornNatalie.” Hermine’s ascetic stoicismndid not enable her to endure her ownnlittleness. Her overwhelming desirenfor something to be sure of was nevern”into a certainty.nNatalie’s own sense of spiritual bankruptcynnow seems to be final. Thenaestheticism symbolized by Tom, thencourage and kindness represented bynLaszio and his projects, and the coldncommon sense of Hermine have allnfailed to sustain her. Her rich, unsystematicninsights have led only to confusion.nWhat she has failed to learn is how “toncake reality as truth,” How is the ruthlessnand magisterial self to be mastered.’n”Gregory is Natalies husband; Barbara is Tom’s wife . , , The affair is natntheir ‘fault.'”n—Ms. Magazinensatisfied. Instead she settled for pain.nThe death of a spiritual bankrupt isngrim. Yet. Uncle Laszlo, courageousnand kind, remains.nLaszlo is engaged in a permanent warnagainst private money, a second-generationnMarxist, the worst kind of snob.nThriving on the rivalry between wealthnand learning, he subverts “this strugglento his own purpose.” Neither an intellectualnnor a rich man, he has. nevertheless,nthe intellectual’s contempt fornmoney and the rich man’s suspicion ofnthe intellect. “Only the cause matters,”nA bachelor, he is enormously upsetnby his mother’s death but finds thencourage to serve his cause with energy.nWith Hermine’s death the liaison withnhis mistress, ‘^/ivianne, takes on anotherndimension; it threatens to become annauthentic relationship. But like Tom.nLaszlo cannot engage himself in realnthings. When confronted by the gift ofnlife offered him by his now pregnantnmistress (“V^ivianne: life), he commitsnsuicide. Where now are Laszlo’s couragenand kindness.’ The shocking sight ofnVivianne, “frail and broken, leaning onnNatalie’s arm like an elderly convalescent.”nis a striking indictment of thencourage and kindness which secularnhumanism is supposed to make real.nSuicide is not a private matter; it threatensnthe community and is hard to forgive.nFor the suicide the suspicion thatnlife is not worth living has hardenednnnYet, like the protagonist of The WastenLand, she has some fragments to shorenagainst her ruin. Her children, her husband,nVivianne and the anticipated baby,nmemories of Hermine’s moving halftruths,nand her bedside readings, “thosenwhich speculate on the nature and existencenof God.” She begins to acknowledgenlife for what it really is,nhaving been forced to look directly atndeath. “She no longer has a quarrelnwith it nor will she as long as it doesn’tnprevent her discovering what it is thatnis required of her; what it is she requiresnof herself.” What she has discoverednis suggested in a very daring finalnchapter.nNatal ie is a professional translator,nand our final view of her is teaching anclass in the art of translation. She tellsnthe class that translation is an attemptnat the impossible. What keeps one goingnis aspiration, the “hope of redemptionnfor our imperfect selves.” Translationnis like the wrong side of a tapestry (realnlife) on which figures appear partiallynobscured. The metaphor suggests St.nPaul’s notion of seeing through a glassndarkly. Were one able to view the rightnside of the tapestry, one would see withoutnobscurity (clearly) the completelyndefined wholeness of it all. So, too, shensuggests is the case of language. It isnnot too difficult to get hold of the literalnmeaning of a word or sentence; “it’sn9nChronicles of Culturen