result in fiction is more tiresome thanneven pathetic. Mailer’s figures live in anhigh-voltage world of internal and externalnviolence. His protagonists standnready at any moment to confront thenexistential challenges which will securenor compromise their manhood,nbring them closer to psychic salvationnor to the onset of cancer. As a result,nTough Guys does not tire the reader.nYet emptiness is what haunts thenworks of both writers, though the responsesnof their characters differ widelyn—languishing and casual sexual indulgencenas opposed to aggression andn12/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnOne Loaded ChambernGraham Greene appears to havenmissed his appointment with destiny.nIn the 1940’s and 1950’s,nGreene was well on his way tonbecoming modern England’s greatestnnovelist. By turning his back onnthe arcana of experimental fiction,nhe had won a popular following;nprobing dilemmas of faith and principlenwith subtlety and skill, he hadnwon critical acclaim. Yet somethingnwent awry. In the new critical studynGraham Greene (Frederick Ungar;nNew York; $13.95), Richard Kellynobserves that Greene’s last novel.nMonsieur Quixote (1982), is “a surprisingncapstone to his literary career”nbecause it “turns away fromnthe deadly earnest treatment of hisnCatholicism and such obsessivensubjects as pity, failure, suicide,nand sex” found in earlier books.n”Surprising” is too kind. MonsieurnQuixote is no more than a comicnfarce blithely equating the Catholicismnof a bumbling and childishnpriest and the Marxism of anworldly-wise Spanish mayor. It isnno wonder that despite his politicalncorrectness, Greene was passed overnby the Nobel Committee the lastntime they looked toward England.nThough Kelly has high praise fornGreene as “one of the best novelistsnof the twentieth century” and onlynintermittentiy alludes to weaknessesnin his later work, he does providensufficient clues for the attentivensexual orgies. Both sets of charactersnwere spawned in a void once filled bynmeaningful, inherited norms. Mailernendeavors to generate a demonizednworld of self-created significance so asnto avoid the abyss into which Doctorow’snwriters are gently sinking, havingnlost their assurance that art and progressivenattitudes will substitute fornolder verities. Indeed, Mailer’s TimnMadden might be thought of as thensecret dream of Doctorow’s fuddlednintellectuals who moan about the insignificancenof their precious works:nMadden’s violence and, especially, hisnREVISIONSnreader. Kelly finds a key to much ofnGreene’s life in an incident in thenfall of 1923, when, “in a confusednstate of intolerable boredom andnsexual frustration,” the young authornslipped a single bullet into hisnbrother’s revolver, twirled thenchamber, pointed the barrel at hisnhead, and pulled the trigger.nGreene found the experience rejuvenating:n”I remember an extraordinarynsense of jubilation, as if carnivalnlights had been switched on in andrab street. … It was like a youngnman’s first successful experience ofnsex.”nWe might suppose that Greenenleft this kind of perilous selfstimulationnbehind when he joinednthe Catholic Church in 1926. Catholicismnis undeniably central tonGreene’s best books—The Powernand the Glory (1940) and The Heartnof the Matter (1948). But by thenearly 1960’s, Greene was protestingnhis identification as “a Catholicnwriter” and was writing transparentlynautobiographic fiction {The Burn-nOut Case, “A Visit to Morin”)nabout characters who have grownn”weary of success, Catholicism,nand sex.” Looking back, it was anbad sign that Greene—who tooknthe name of the doubter Thomas asnhis baptismal name—was so fascinatednwith failed clerics who drinknheavily, father illegitimate children,nand brood endlessly on theirncorruption. There are no ThomasnMores — not even any Fathernnnsense of inhabiting a cosmos chargednwith significance, however dreadful, isnwhat they vainly seek on more prosaicnand trendy levels. Unfortunately,nMailer’s fascinating world is the projectionnof his own intensities. Its significances,nlike those of a paranoid’snvision, are not accessible to outsiders.nIt can entertain but cannot help thosenwho are drifting in cultural disarray.nArt alone does not, after all, save, asnDoctorow’s tipsy poet has come tonsuspect. ccnBrowns—in Greene.nQuite possibly, Greene picked upnhis religion for the same reason henpicked up his brother’s revolver:npointed at the head and revolved anbit, the promise of salvation and thenthreat of damnahon do prompt anremarkable rush of adrenaline.nKelly puts it delicately: “Greenenenjoys pressing Catholic teachingsnto extraordinary limits in order tonmake the lives of his charactersnmore intensely exciting.” Since thenearly 1960’s, though, “the noveltynand shock of his whisky priest havenpassed,” and Kelly believesnGreene’s Catholicism is no longern”a powerful distraction to literaryncritics.”nWhat has stirred Greene’s bloodnsince the mid-50’s has usually beennnot religion but politics. In suchnworks as The Quiet American (1955)nand The Comedians (1966), Greenenhas descended into anti-Americanncaricature and Third World romanticism.nGenerally a sympatheticnreader, even Kelly admits that innGreene’s later work, ideology “imposesna rigidity” that weakens hisnwork and gives us “figures in anMarxist fantasy.” Greene’s politicalnenthusiasms prompted him to declarenin 1967 that if forced tonchoose between living in the SovietnUnion and the U.S., “I would certainlynchoose the Soviet Union.”nAfter some of his recent productions,nwe shall not be sorry to seenhim go. ccn