Mr. Boswell’s errors and muddlednthinking about Catholic morality leadnhim to list various “condemnations”nwithout making essential distinctions.nFor example, we read: “Lending at interest,nsexual intercourse during thenmenstrual period, jewelry or dyed fabrics,nshaving, regular bathing, wearingnwigs, serving in the civil government ornarmy, performing manual labor on feastndays, eating kosher food, practicing circumcision—allnwere condemned absolutelynby various fathers of the church. ..”nSorting out his chaos of notions wouldnEternal InfancynKristen Thorup: Baby; LouisiananState University Press; BatonnRouge, Louisiana.nFrancine du Plessix Gray: WorldnWithout End; Simon & Schuster;nNew York.nby Carson DalynOne of the most distressing aspectsnof much popular modern literature isnits tendency not only to chronicle butnalso to glorify the immature, the perverted,nthe obscene and the ignoble. Innmany contemporary works one rarelynencounters the normal or the mature—nmuch less the whole, the pure and thenbrave. Instead, one is often condemnednto keep vicarious company with thenspiritually blind, the emotionally haltnand the psychically lame whom thenreader is explicitly asked to admire andnimplicitly pressured to emulate. In thisnrespect, the reading and writing of muchncurrent literature is an infectious activitynin which the reader first contractsnand then spreads the puerile indecisivenessnand moral ennui that affects so manynmodern protagonists.nTwo recent books which differ widelynDr. Daly is professor of English at thenUniversity of Notre Dame.nneed another article. The first step wouldnbe to clarify the distinction between anChurch law (requiring abstinence fromnmeat on Fridays and other days) and anmoral law (prohibiting, for example,nadultery or sodomy). Mr. BosWell seemsnto know nothing of these differences.nHis treatment of St. Augustine and St.nThomas Aquinas would require a separatenarticle too, but I am afraid it wouldninterest specialists rather than generalnreaders. Suffice it to say that these werengreat men and Mr. Boswell just does notnunderstand them. Dnin style, setting, plot and characterization,noffer the reader a good, hard, longnlook at what kinds of lives, attitudesnand malaises modern literature considersnworth recording. Despite the veryngreat differences between the Danishnauthor Kristen Thorup’s recently translatednBaby and the American Francinendu Plessix Gray’s World Without End,nboth demonstrate that the modern interestnis not, as the titles of these booksnmight suggest, in either the infant orneternity but in eternal infancy—thennever-never land where maturity forevernhovers on the horizon, a seductivenbut ultimately rejected alternative.nAlthough Thorup’s novel Baby describesnno actual infants, no expectantnparents, no maternity wards, it aboundsnin a whole cast of aimless, infantilencharacters who never have, and nevernwill, grow up. They wallow in theirnemotional and spiritual arrested development—equallyncut off from innocencenand maturity.nAs the novel progresses, the charactersnregress. Of scant interest in themselves,nthese regressions act as paradigmsnfor modern aimlessness andninfantilism in general, for the sense ofnalienation which more or less truly afflictsnso many modern men, for thenempty sensuality from which so manyncontemporary women suffer, for thennnmodern tendency to shun responsibilitynand to structure one’s life by only reactingnagainst authority instead of by assumingnit. Since the characters in Babyneither will not or cannot assume responsibilitynfor their own lives, theynare doomed to a perpetual prepubescentnworld in which they acknowledge onlynphysical needs and tiy futilely to gratifynthem. Their obsessive preoccupationnwith food may indicate not only theirnarrested development, but also their insatiablenhunger for some other, morensymbolic, nourishment. Still more revealingnis the pathetic parade of objectsnthat they buy in their frenetic attemptsnto assuage their psychic starvation and tonfill the space around them—even if theyncannot fill the aching emptiness withinnthemselves: acrylic blouses, ceramicnvases, imitation-leopard clothes, candynbars, coke, corn flakes, vampire comicnbooks, beds made of beer cans, and Norwegiannpornographic magazines.nThe things that the characters eat,nbuy and do in Baby assure that they willnnever grow up—assure, in fact, thatnthey will die of spiritual malnutrition,nthat they will try to palliate their hungernfor love with a diet of the sedatives thatnkeep some of them in the perpetual,ndazed twilight of the habitually drugged.nThe real hunger that afflicts them is thendesire to love and to be loved. Nora, anteen-age prostitute, says, “I just wantnto fall in love—I’d like that,” but Thorupnseems to know that it is difficult for someonenwho has never been loved to love; shendescribes Nora with “a distant look onnher face and her mouth was open and shenstared out at the road without blinkingnand she was a lost soul, like someone whonhad never been loved.”nX he same problem plagues the threenmajor characters in World Without Endn—even though they are richer, betterneducated, more well-traveled, articulate,nintelligent, self-conscious and complicatednthan any of the characters in Baby.nEdmund, a Russian-Jewish-Americannart historian; Sophie, an internationallynknown television newswoman; andnMarch/^prill98Sn