recognition of this special need separatesnhim from the critical (and pedagogical)nZeitgeist of our time. Modernnlife remains in the dark shadow ofnMarxist doctrine, with the stress onneconomic questions rather than religiousnquestions. In truth, Karl Marx isnour Grand Inquisitor, as liberation theologyndemonstrates with such tellingnforce. Indeed, we have made so much,nthese days, of the Harvey Coxes and thenHans Kiings that we have tended tonforget or to minimize “the theology ofncrisis” of a Karl, Barth or an EmilnBrunner, both of whom decipher thenstate of our true captivity and challengenus to find the true freedom. Thompson’snessays on these two theologiansnhelp to restore a measure of religiousnsanity to a rampant theological sentimentalismnand romanticism.nWhat connects the visible life withnthe invisible life, the temporal with theneternal, is for Thompson a fundamentalnmatter. His essays never fail to reflectnon spiritual connections that ivify andnshape life. Catholicity of taste, seriousnessnof intent, and courage of faithninform and enrich his acceptances andnaffirmations as these emerge from thensincerity and order of the eloquent criticalntestimony found in the pages of thisnlittle book. Een when the didacticnstrain here is strongK’ evident, Thompson’snsincerity is so radiant that thenreader does not resent his evangelicalntone. It is surprising and een disappointingnto find that Thompson doesnnot include among the writers he celebratesna Fyodor Dostoevski or a NicholasnBerdyae. The absence of an EasternnOrthodox writer deprives the booknof a larger spiritual dimension. Shll, thenreader need not quibble with the contentnof Christian Classics Revisited; wenha e an especially urgent need for suchna book written by a teacher and criticnconscious of “God in search of man.”nThe spiritual and critical ethos thatnTliompson celebrates is hardly a popularnone. Nor is it the kind that will gainneither faor or attention in the popularnpress. Christian Classics Revisited uillnnever command the kind of criticalnresponse routine!}’ accorded the sensationalisticnand voyeuristic. Given thenpower of the secular conspiracy,nThompson’s book should make us allnthe more aware of wh’ we now neednstandards of piety. ccnGeorge A. Panichas is professor ofnEnglish at the University of Marylandnat College Park and editor of ModernnAge.nIN FOCUSnA Strangernto His Kindnby Carl C. CurtisnDonald Spoto: The Kindness ofnStrangers; Little, Brown; “Boston;n$19.95.n”Poetry,” declared T.S. Eliot, “is not anturning loose of emotion, but an escapenfrom emohon; it is not an expression ofnpersonality, but an escape from personalitv.”nMore than one set of eyebrowsnhas arched at that pronouncement. Fornsureh we read in part to know the mannbehind the work. A blind bard,nDemodocus, sings in Odyssey VIII, wenconclude, because Homer was blind;nMicawber lives in the shadow of thenpoorhouse in David Copperfield becausenDickens’ ou n father did. Poets arenpeculiar, and we always dehght in hearingnthe details of their lives. But do wenreally read Homer or Dickens to discovernthe intimate struggles and deepestnsecrets of their past? Eliot was right: asnmuch as we enjoy hearing of our favoritenpoets’ eccentricities, their work mustntranscend the autobiographic and confessional.nWe want words and imagesnthat order our chaotic percephons into andecorous, truthful whole. The poet,nhowever fascinating, who fails in thisntask remains a mere character, a strangernspeaking an arcane language thatnmay amuse, captivate, or anger, butncannot teach.nIn the last 20 ears of his life, TennesseenWilliams wrote play after playntrying simultaneously to exorcise personalndemons and to maintain hisnstanding as the greatest living Americannplav’wright. How well he succeeded privatelynand professionally may be seennboth in the continuing torment he sufferednand in the bewildered, often caustic,nreaction of theatergoers and critics.nTo the faithful who wanted anothernClass Menagerie, the new works werenimcomprehensible; to the aficionadosnof the avant-garde who thrived on thenlatest shocker, they were flat. By thentime of his death in 1983, friends andnpublic alike pihed Williams as much asnthey admired him.nIn his biography of Williams, ThenKindness of Strangers, Donald Spotonsketches the career of the playwrightnfrom birth in Columbus, Mississippi, tondeath in Key West. Notwithstanding hisnadmiration for his subject, Spoto admitsnthe link of Williams’ decline to thensordid habits—liquor, sex, and dopennn—that absorbed his private and publicnenergies and separated him from thenfriends and audience he wanted tonreach. Spoto’s readings of the individualnplays become repetitious, and hisntrendy acceptance of Williams’ “sexualnpreference” fills the reader with loathing.nBut one message is clear: personalncatharsis untranslated into public ca- ‘ntharsis spelled Williams’ fall as a successfulndramahst.nYet Spoto disappoints in his a.ssessmentnof the early plav’S which madenWilliams’ reputation. Spoto wouldnhave us believe that Williams was ankeen examiner of the verifies of humannpassion and endurance, that The GlassnMenagerie plumbs the depths of humannendurance and fragility, and that AnStreetcar Named Desire contrasts thenromantic, chivalrous South (symbolizednin Blanche) with a brutish modernitv’n(seen in Stanley). Certainly, Williamsntried to work such ideas into hisnplays. The trouble was his exhibitionism.n”I am more personal in my writingnthan other people,” he said, “and itnmay have gone against me.” Too true.nThe more audiences learned of his past,nthe less they thought about humannpassion and endurance. They onlv sawnTennessee Williams baring his soul onnstage. That’s why viewers easily forgetnthat Blanche symbolizes the South, andnremember instead that her dead husbandnkilled himself after she exposednhis homosexuality. Similarly, audiencesnmiss the pathos of Laura in ThenMOVING?nLET US KNOW BEFORE YOU GO.nTo assure uninterrupted delivery of Chroniclesnof Culture, please notify us in advance. Sendnthis form with the mailing label from yournlatest issue of Chronicles of Culture to: SubscriptionnDepartment, Chronicles of Culture, P.O.nBox 800, Rockford, Illinois 61105.nNAMEnADDRESSnCITYnSTATE. .ZIPnFEBRUARY 1986 / 33n