showed equanimity; her nation cannonly be strengthened vis-a-vis the Russiansnwhen the Baltic states achievenindependence. What did the two RussiansnI met say to that? We need anreducing cure, they said; Russia cannstand alone without corrupt satrapies,ncolonies, and client-states.nIt was remarkable to me, who cannrecall events of fifty years ago, that notnone of these men and women referrednto a “great man,” a hero-figure, annational savior. This was very differentnhalf a century ago when grandiosenpolitical and social programs werenlinked with larger-than-life-size leaders.nToday, they call Gorbachev a luckyngambler, Walesa is suspected of excessivenambitions, Havel is well-liked butnnot adulated. In France, De Gaulle isnforgotten, although still pulled out ofnhis mausoleum to label this or thatnparty’s policy with his name. The onlynpraise I heard for one or two Hungariannpoliticians was for their virtue ofnpragmatism. It is evident that mynfriends are in a state best described asnemotional convalescence. They arenfull of elan and hope yet trust nobody,ndespise and ridicule the nomenklatura,nand withhold judgment about the actorsnwho just stepped on the stage. Tonnone of them do my young friendsnpredict durability; they believe that thenlast cards have not yet been played.n(Only in France did I hear studentsnexpress radical ideas — no longernLIBERAL ARTSnFORGET THE READER’SnDIGEST GONDENSEDnNOVELS . . .n. . . Buy the newly-released Cliff NotesnHardbound Literary Library! As thenAugust 1990 Library Journal reports,n”Everybody who has ever taken annEnglish class has at one time or anothernrelied on Cliff Notes to help them getnthrough the masterpiece of literaturenthat put them to sleep after the firstnpage. … If your library is constantlynreplacing stolen cliffs, take heart, becausennow the entire series can be hadnin hardbound editions from MoonbeamnPublications.”n44/CHRONICLESnMarxist ones, but the eternally destructivenones of a Voltaire. The latter stillnhas a progeny, while Sartre rests undisturbednas a mummy.)nIn political matters my friends displayednmostly disbelief and doubt, andnI am unable to say whether theirn”transitional” generation will turn intona usable material for their nation’snfuture. Seventy years ago, their grandfathersnwere enthusiastic militants forncauses; their fathers, in 1945-50, wereninterested in peace and bourgeois comfort.nBoth expectations got bitterlyncheated. They themselves, the sonsnand grandsons, are disillusioned decentnfellows, but too shaken up by history,nincluding the latest chapter, to acceptncommitments. Besides: to what and tonwhom?nIn the present vortex these youngnpeople are aware that the individualncannot fight history but can order hisnmind along, the old road of study,nreflection, observation, friendship.nThis has been so since the proverbialndawn of the human race, and willnremain so. Its genuineness is againnunderlined now, despite the turmoil.nThe individual, freed, in his mind atnleast, of grandiose ideological patterns,nfreed also of promises never kept,nlearns to steady himself at a safe distancenfrom the affairs of the community.nAt the same time that I found angreat deal of political skepticism, I wasnstruck by how up-to-date these youngnpeople from Eastern Europe were innmatters of culture, knowledge, and thenbest of scholarship. The osmosis betweennthe two halves of Europenworked all along, barbed wire andnKGB notwithstanding. For decades, innPrague, Budapest, Kiev, and Belgrade,npeople were reading and discussing,nand writing, too, in the “Aesopiannlanguage” practiced under despotism.nSo my friends and I needed no circumlocutions,nand my references to Westernncurrents of thought were readilynunderstood. This much has to be saidnfor communist regimes: they stored thenbourgeois society, vintage circa 1940,nin a Frigidaire (for better or worse, it isnnow taken out to thaw), and they keptnthe school curriculum almost in thensame state of solidity. They were toonrespectful of the old world they hadnoverthrown to modify its cultural base.nEven in the somber 50’s the curricu­nnnlum was far better in European than innAmerican schools. This resulted in thenamazing phenomenon that bourgeoisnvalues were actually instilled in proletariannyouth. No wonder that workersnwere the first, in Budapest and Gdansk,nto start the national insurrection —nagainst the Internahonal of the Proletariat!nAt any rate, the indoctrinationncourses added to the curriculum werennever taken seriously. The mediocrenstudents were unaffected by the reconditenlanguage of the Marxist forefathers,nand the good minds vomited itnup — and turned to serious studies,namong which were the — uncensoredn— classics. They could also turn to oldnprofessors. Thus a cultural networkndeveloped in classes and outside,njoined by young scholars and priests,npoets and editors of samizdat.nAll of this allowed me to pick up thenthread of conversation as if it had notnbeen interrupted for five decades. Wenslipped over generations, events, andncultures, and could exchange ideas andnviews as if geography and history hadnnot intervened. It was the greatest giftnwith which I returned from the trip. Atnno point did I have the feeling, fromnFrance to Hungary, that I talked withnsemi-developed or culturally retardednboys and girls. If there was a differencenbetween East and West, it was thenformer’s greater maturity, wider andnmore concrete frame of reference.nWestern youth is more worldly-wisenand frivolous; its “problems” are mostlynartificial, created by the self-contradictionsnof pluralistic, liberal society.nOn the other, Eastern, side there isnmore seriousness, the weight of thingsnand issues are better evaluated.nAt times, they seem to go overboard.nThe Russians I met were frankly nihilistic—nthey stepped out of anDostoyevsky novel. They were also thenfreest, since Gentral-European bourgeoisntradition did not discipline theirnimagination and attitudes. They werenfrank, with the questionable freedomnof those who no longer care, who havenno solid ground under their feet. Yetnthey also handled matters of culture,npolitics, and art with the astoundingnfamiliarity I did not find even amongnmy students at Yale. The latter seemednmore isolated from the world than theirncounterparts west or east of Warsaw.nIt is tempHng to make predictions onnthe basis of this short excursion, but In