learn to hate them and to love them. He must argue withnthem, quarrel with them, forgive them, and even submit tonthem.”nTo submit to one’s own creations is not a rational or considerednact. It cannot be part of a plan or serve an ideologicalnpurpose. When Trollope tries to make a point openly, as hendoes in The Warden, he lapses into satire and caricature, butnwhen he is content to marshal the troops of his imagination,nthe reader can sympathize with his most repellent characters.nTrollope could never bring himself to like Dickens, preciselynbecause his heroes and villains are such extreme cases. Wenhate the Dickensian demons and wish them dead for being sonbeastly to Oliver Twist and Little Nell, but Trollope’s villainsnwe can dislike in the same way that we dislike the enemies wencross, swords with at the office or on the vestry, and if, for anmoment, we can put ourselves in Bishop Proudie’s shoes, wenmay learn not to demonize the officious little humbugs whonrule our world.nTrollope was fortunate in not being too bright; he had tontrust instincts more basic than reason. Whatever an artistnmight believe about his work, he is inevitably making sense ofnthe materials furnished to him by his deceitful memory, andnin making sense he turns pain into pleasure, hi our own lives,nwe sometimes do painful things, like attending a high-schoolnreunion or arranging one last meeting after the end of an affair,nsimply to round off the experience or suck some bitter lessonnout of it. We read on to the end of Hardy’s Jude the Obscure,nnot because we imagine things will turn out welln(although even the most cynical reader can scarcely anticipatenthe conclusion), but because we need to know. The greatestnfictions—whether tragedy, epic, or novels—are tales of detection.nIs Orestes responsible for his mother’s death? Whonkilled Laius? Some years ago, the question of who shot J. R.nseemed to occupy half the world for an entire summer.nIn their own lives, men and women—burdened, as they are,nwith the grave responsibility of living from day-to-day—havenlittle time for reverie and nostalgia. Trollope could afford tonobsess himself with his characters, because like a good Victoriannhe had learned how to make a business out of his weakness.nIf there is a writer who did manage finally to submergenhimself entirely into the pool of his own remembering, it isnProust. From the first page of his masterpiece, he draws thenreader into the hypnotic realm that lies between sleeping andnwaking. When an accidental taste of tea and cake opens thengates to the past, he sets about telling the story of his uneventfulnlife, which is really the story of the writing of thennovel. Near the end, when Marcel has realized that he onlynexists to write this novel, he reflects upon his possible readers:nlis ne seraient pas, selon moi, mes lecteurs, mais lesnpropres lecteurs d’eux-memes, mon livre n’etantnqu’une sorte de ces verres grossisant. . . . Mon livre,ngrace auquel je leur fournirais le moyen de lire en euxmemes.nHis novel was to be a magnifying glass, a book that readersncould use as a means of reading in their own selves.nSomewhere in his table talk, Coleridge praises Claudian asna writer who displays the transition from the objective poetrynof the ancient world to the subjectivity of modern literature.nIt is easy to find exceptions to Coleridge’s distinction, butnwhether one chooses Claudian or some other writer as thenpoint of departure, Christian literature has, in fact, tended tonilluminate the inner reality of conscious life more than it hasnshed light on the outer world of rocks and trees and other people.nOne could trace a line from St. Augustine’s Confessionsnthrough Pilgrim’s Progress to the poetry of the Romantics (Coleridge,nin particular, but also Lamartine and Musset) to A lanrecherche du temps perdu.nUnlike so many modern masters, Proust was, althoughnreactionary, not a Christian reactionary, but like Joyce andnFaulkner, Eliot and Pound, he insisted upon the integrity ofnthe inner life. The bourgeois order of the fin de siecle was alreadyna fragmented world, exalting division of labor in the factory,ndemarcating the separate spheres of the sexes, deepeningnthe cleavage between public and private life, work and home,nbusiness and hobbies. It was the golden age of hobbies, whennmen who had made or inherited their bundle could find nothingnbetter to occupy themselves with than model railroads andngolf-n”And so I entered the broken world,” sang the drunken son ^nof an Ohio candy manufacturer, “to trace the visionary companynof love.” If Christendom lay shattered in fragments bynthe end of the First World War, there were plenty of king’snhorses and king’s men eager to put it back together again:nCommunists, Nazis, democrats, at the same time as they werendriving wedges into the fissures, they were also patching thenpieces together into ideological nations whose only cement wasnobedience to the party state. Reactionary Christians—Eliotnand Peguy, for example—repudiated the deconstruction of experiencenrepresented by the bourgeois order, but they also opposednthe attempts of Lenin, Hitler, and Roosevelt to reconstructnunity within the total state.nThe best modern poems and novels—like all good poemsnand novels—are deeply subversive, because the moment wenfirst glimpse the integrity of conscious experience as representednby a coherent narrative, we begin to discover that ournown lives have their own integrity, their own worth, quite apartnfrom the money we get and spend and pay in taxes. A mannwho can tell the story of his own life can never be fully a slave.nThat is why early Christians were so active in preaching thengospel and comparatively indifferent to reforming society. Itnalso explains why the faithless clergy of these latter days havenreversed the priorities.nThe Christian faith is not so much a matter of doctrine orneven of ritual as it is of experience: the experience of eonversionnand prayer, the experiences of the church to which wengive the name tradition. The Gospels are nothing, if they arennot the stories of a life, and Christians draw nearer to God byncontemplating that life, by reading ourselves into the story, andnultimately by practicing an imitation of Christ.nIf there were races of rational beings that think analyticallynand tell no stories, we and they would have nothing to say toneach other. All our wisdom, all science is an account of hownthe world got to be the way it is. Genesis and Hesiod’snTheogony, the Big Bang theory and The Origin of Species arenall stories used to justify the ways of God to man. “I love tontell the story,” the old song goes, “of Jesus and his glory.” Asnhuman beings we are condemned to a lifetime of storytelling,nand as the heirs of a long civilization, whose record constitutesnthe longest of all stories, we are obliged to pass on these storiesnto the little savages we rear in our houses and indoctrinatenin our schools. That, quite simply, is what literature is goodnfor. • <5>nnnAUGUST 1992/15n