tain death. Some two decades later Coffinnwould use that immoral submissionnto authority as a twisted justification fornhis outspoken and ultimately successfulnopposition to an American policy whichnsought to prevent still other thousands ofnhuman beings from being delivered toncommunist tyranny in Vietnam. DnGrand Commemorations of DetailnMircea Eliade: Autobiography: VolumenI: 1907-1937: Journey East,nJourney West; Harper & Row; NewnYork.nPoems and Sketches of E.B. White;nHarper & Row; New York.nby Thomas LandessnL*iterary critics are forever preoccupiednwith what some have called “stmcmre,”nwith those elements of poetry andnfiction that are spacious and fundamental:nplot, character, and most of all, centralntheme. A critic feels he’s done a day’snwork if he can account for every turn ofnaction or change of heart in terms ofnsome overarching paraphrasable argument,npreferably “archetypal” in its implications.nYet what distinguishes a permanentnwork from an ephemeral one (ornfrom one that is unpublishable) is notnstructure at all but something else. Afternall, one could make a thematic analysis ofna literary work, extrapolate its thesis,nwrite another work based on that; in allnlikelihood the finished product would benworthy only of the trash can. Structuralnelements are just not all-important to thensuccess or failure of literature. What isnmore cmcial is something that too manynaitics dismiss as the lesser part of literature—itsntexture. It includes such elementsnas the concrete particularities ofnimagery, the appropriateness of dictionnand syntax, and the intonation or voicenof the narrative. These are the telling ingredientsnof poetry and fiction.nOne can imitate the structural elementsnof another writer’s work, but anynMr. Landess is professor of English at thenUniversity of Dallas.nattempt to imitate the texture ends up innpastiche or unintentional parody. Texturengrows out of the writer’s more unpredictablenand irrational self—out ofnthe uniqueness of his experience, thenmystery of intuition, the nuances of sensibilitynand taste. To be sure, we demandnfi:om his work the old substantial truthsnof life which are perennially imitable,nbut what finally delights us most are “accidental”nqualities analogous to those individualntraits in other human beingsnthat engage us, hold our attention, andn—when their combination is inexplicablynright—make us fall in love.nM ircea Eliade, in an autobiographynthat tells little of substantial interest,nnonetheless renders the details of hisnchildhood and early youth in such a waynthat despite his own self-indulgence, thenworld of Romania in the 1920’s and 30’snsurvives intact and makes an irresistiblenclaim on the reader’s imagination.nEliade, a great mythographer of the presentnage, may have been one of the greaternjackasses of another time and place. Or sonhis own retrospective view leads us tonbelieve. From early childhood he seemedndetermined to relive every legend of thenRomantics, even reducing his sleep tonfour hours a night in order to have timenfor all the Goethean and Byronic variations.nHe lived in an attic surrounded bynthousands of arcane books, which henread for days on end with littie or no interruption.nHe was continually immersednin a pool of self-conscious melancholy.nEliade pored over scientific treatisesnat first, then literature and finallynalchemical, hermetic, and mysticalntracts. The result was that he picturednhimself sailing proudly, defiantly,nthrough a life-threatening storm in annnfi:ail, wave-tossed sailboat and standingnon a craggy mountaintop amidst thundernand lightning, shouting Wagneriannarias at the Powers That Be. The youthnpublished a hundred articles by the timenhe was eighteen and had written two selfaggrandizing,nself-pitying autobiographicalnnovels by the time he wasn23. In addition, he planned, began, andnthen abandoned world histories and exhaustivenencyclopedias. Like a youngnKierkegaard he decided a priori that loventhreatened the “freedom and spiritualnintegrity” of the true genius and thus orchestratednthe breakup of his first love affair:nhe wrote a fictionalized account ofnthe parting and then insisted that hisnbeloved read the manuscript so she couldnplay her role exactiy as he planned. Notnsurprisingly, he felt that he could learnnmore from his own random reading thannfrom the professors whose classes he consistentlyncut. The eclectic scholar strucknout for India at the age of 20 in order tonlearn everything there was to learn aboutnmysticism in one year, was advised to staynfive, compromised on three. Eliadenstudied in the home of India’s mostnfamous religious scholar until he becamenmore interested in the Master’s daughternthan his dogma and was thrown out ofnthe house. He fled to a Himalayan hutnand was content to practice yogic meditationsnuntil a mnaway female cellist, whonalso went to India to seek the absolute,nsuggested that they try certain Tantricnrituals together without the benefit ofnguru. Again he was asked to leave thenpremises.nEliade has spent his later years discoveringnwhat is substantial or universal innhuman experience. However, in thisnwork he resists the temptation to makenhis own life an exemplar of youth, unbridlednego, or any other archetype.nSometimes he seems to be attempting tonportray a kind of artist as a young man, anRomanian Stephen Dedalus, but thennhe trails off into accounts of casualnfriendships and catalogues of Bucharestnliterati, as if he had no consciousness ofnthe world at large. In this respect hendisplays all the charm and occasionaln^ ^ ^ ^ S lnNovember 198Sn