Claire, a Wasp crusader for the rightsnof man, are all suffering from whatnthreatens to be a terminal inability tongrow up and a concomitant incapacitynto love. But Sophie does not seem tonspeak for herself alone when she saysn”Have I been in love? That’s been thendisaster of my life.” Indeed, she seemsnto speak for a whole chorus of modernntragedians enacting loveless dramas atnall stages of contemporary life.nSophie, Claire and Edmund, however,nseem a trifle more advanced than thencharacters in Baby and their many non-nand love which he really seeks on his pathnto self-discovery. The substitutes allnprove ultimately deceptive. Sophie discoversnthat her role as the daughter of anNew York talent magnate, her attemptnto be the muse and amanuensis of a greatnartist, her position as the wife of a cannedfoodntycoon, her liaison with a famousnhippie actor, her marriage to an Israelinand finally her brilliantly successful careernas a newswoman leave her lonely,ndisillusioned and afraid. Her recurringnnightmare speaks for a whole generationnof today’s career women: “I haven” ‘H’li//;/ Without End’is, a very good novel, and a fine surprise.n—John LeonardnNew York Timesnfictional counterparts in that they realizenthat something is radically wrongnwith their lives, and they have a glimmeringnthat the absence in their livesnis connected to their failure to establishnlasting values and families, to suffernwillingly for others. In fact, when thenbook opens, all three, who at forty-fivenhave been friends for thirty years, arentogether in Russia on a trip “to figurenout how to live the last third of our lives;nafter forty-five there isn’t much left butnfriendship is there, only friends will tellnyou the truths that you need to hear tonmake the last part of your existencenbearable.”nThe rest of the novel concerns whatnfriends will and will not tell one and hownbearable and/or unbearable these truthsnand half-truths make one’s life. Thisn”truth-in,” as it is somewhat archly callednonce in the book, covers a good deal ofnground and shows three characters turningnup virtually every modern cul-de-sacnas a way toward self-fulfillment until theynarrive at something that John Bunyannwould have called the straight and narrow.nIronically, they discover that thisnpath is infinitely easier to travel than anynof the other torturous ones that they hadnmapped out for themselves. These pathsnare metaphors for the many shallow, butnglamorous, roles that modern man triesnout in an effort to elude the maturitynS6inChronicles of Cultarenprimitive, simple dreams … I dream ofnbeing precisely the opposite of what Inam, there are many children about andnI must cook for fourteen and I’m constantlynout of food and everyone shoutsnat me.”nAlthough Claire is physically andnspiritually quite different from Sophie,nshe too exemplifies a woman who failsnbecause she cannot nurture others ornherself. Claire is devoted neither to hernmarriage nor to her child, but to extrafamilialncauses. This altruism masksnher refusal to help, to know and to lovenany particular human beings on an intimatenlevel. Oblivious to the domesticnmisery that she causes as a result of hernimmersion in schemes to save the world,nClaire sees no sense in her own husband’snprayer that someone “save us from thensavers.” Her refusal to sacrifice hernimage of herself for those close to herncontinues, of course, when she retreatsnto an Anglican convent to purify herselfnand to contemplate the lives of the greatnmedieval abbesses. As a result of thisnexperience, however, she realizes somenthing about herself. She confesses tonSophie, “for my first twenty-five years Inhadn’t learned friendship the way othernpeople haven’t learned to swim or ridena bicycle.”nEdmund, the third member of the trio,nrepeatedly declares that he loves bothnnnSophie and Claire. It soon becomes obviousnthat his feelings for the former arenmostly a form of self-gratulatory affectionnand his passion for the latter is mostlyna desire for the Wasp world of large, happy,nwell-clothed families. As an artist andnart historian, Edmund succumbs to thencurrent temptation of mistaking the artisticnrepresentation for the thing itnrepresents; he is a poseur occasionallynfooled by his own posturings. These arenpoignant, however, because he, like sonmany of his contemporary counterparts,nyearns to believe in the past and in thentraditions which he arrogantly abjures.nFor Edmund, this takes the form of rejectingnMother Russia, Slavic mysticism,nthe Orthodox Church and God. Evennthese rejections, however, are immatureninsofar as he wants to have his cake andneat it too. He discounts the faith of thensaints, but tells Claire, “saints are one ofnmy favorite subjects, you can’t help butnbe a specialist in saints when you’re an artnhistorian, I collect them, I’m an aficionado.”nSimilarly, he says that he wants hisndisbelief to have the “violence and passionnof faith,” and he defines an atheistnas “a God-obsessed maniac who witnessesnGod’s absence ever)rwhere, a mannwith deep religious convictions who trulynbelieves in the nonexistence of God.”niJelief in all of reality’s substance andnaspects is as much a problem throughoutnWorld Without End as it is in thenworld of our time. But Edmund has annidea of where his final hope for beliefnand faith might lie. He has no wife,nno children and no chastity, yet he recognizesnthat the family is the seed bednfor all kinds of faith: “Even though Indon’t have one I’m . . . concerned withnthe survival of the family.” He is concernednwith who will raise the childrennof today and tomorrow:nAnd who would bring up this superbnchild? Women were leaving home tonfind a possible death in good causes,nschools were dissolving under thenthreat of radical idiots, the daughtersnof women who’d gone mad from stay-n