that fact bodes ill for the future ofnAmerican and Western culture. “Anarchynno longer has the power to jolt us.”nshe wrote in May of 1949. “whichnmeans that we should perhaps take heednof our condition.” The degradation ofnWestern culture so evident 30 vearsnlater has proved her words prophetic.nixeviewing the Forties, then, is anpartial record of a discriminating, independent,nand interesting mind at worknas cultural critic three decades ago.nThere can be no question of Mrs. Trilling’snexcellence as that special tvpenof cultural critic, the reviewer of currentnbooks. It is still too early to sav whatnher stature finally will be as a literaryncritic who assessed the permanent artisticnworth of the numerous booksnwhich crossed her desk and about whichnshe was compelled to write under thencruel pressure of deadlines.nA word should be added, however,nabout the manner in which this collec­ntion was prepared, especially since thenJust jacket summary describes it asnan “indispensable historical document.”nEach of the Nation columns includednbears a date. The dates are so distributednthat one assumes not all Mrs. Trilling’snarticles have been chosen for this volumen(although this is nowhere e.xplicitlynstated), and that assumption is correct.nThe reader might very well not assume,nhowever, that the selections here offerednhave been edited, for he is not soninformed, A quick spot check of thenoriginal publications, however, showsnthat the pieces included in this collectionnhave indeed been edited stvlistically.nsometimes fairlv heavily, and innat least one instance in such a wav asnto alter the original meaning significantly.nIf this sort of alteration is tonbe done, the reader should be explicitlyninformed, and he should not be invitednto regard the results as a “historicalndocument,” For that he will have tonreturn to the Nation of the 1940s. DnAgainst Impotent Hopesnand Living DespairnEllen Schwamm: Adjacent Lives;nKnopf; New York.nby Joseph Schwartznrlllen Schwamm’s first novel is onnthe surface quintessential contemporarynNew York. Her leading players appearnto be fastidiously cultured and auncourant. “They are barbarians.” Caughtnup in the dread argument of the individualncase, they are pursuers, themselvesnpursued by an Angst for which theyncannot find a name. Natalie, distantlyncool, and Tom, a prominent art critic,nfind themselves rather too suddenly embroilednin a tempestuous and unsatis-nDr. Schwartz teaches English at MarquettenUniversity in Milwaukee andnedits Renascence, a literary quarterh.n8nChronicles of Culturenfactory affair. Standing mutely on thensidelines “judiciously apart” is Gregory.nNatalie’s husband, a man of few ambiguities.nBarbara. Tom’s wife, is engagednin her own aggressive sexualnsearch, repelled by Tom’s impotentnaestheticism. The realistic complicationnof children belonging to both marriagesnis briefly considered.nNatalie is the center of consciousnessnin the novel, although others occasionallynplay that part. The illness and deathnof Natalie’s grandmother is the condition,nif not the cause, of her affair withnTom, just as the suicide of her unclenis the condition of whatever poise shenfinally comes to when the affair ends.nAnd therein lies the ethical center ofnthe novel. “One cannot look directly atneither the sun or death.” Yet. in Natalienand Tom’s Arcadia of sublime illusion.nnnthe death head grins: et in Arcadia ego.nTheir Arcadia is, ironically enough,nthe prayer rug in Tom’s office uponnwhich their grapplings and suckingsnand fumblings come to a cheerless end.nThe etfort of treating each other seriouslynhas been too strenuous.nV-