duce his perverse sister-in-law, who alsondisappears after the perverse sex story.nStingo revels in stereotypes and platitudes.nBut those are functional stereotypesnor platitudes; they can be pluggednin or out at will, exchanged, recombined,nthrown out, or replaced, with thenrecurrent hope that the book will benless unoriginal, if more far-fetched andnphony.n1 he first 20th-century Western pulpnnovel I read had been published in Englandnin the 1920s and entitled The UndesirablenGoverness. There was andifference between The UndesirablenGoverness and 19th-century Europeanndime fiction. The latter usually displayedndukes and duchesses, and all thenappurtenances of luxury. “Tears streamingndown her pale face, the duchess wasnrunning to the pond.” The pond was anducal accessory, of course. The UndesirablenGoverness displayed “people ofnculture” as the modern equivalent ofndukes and duchesses. Thus, instead ofnrunning to the ducal pond, the heroinenread the Upanishads, the most culturednpastime for the English middle class ofnthe ’20s. The Upanishads had replacednthe ducal pond. Just as the 19th centuryndime novel readers were to gaspnat the luxury of ducal ponds, the newnpulp novel readers were to marvel atnthe culture of “people of culture.”nSophie’s Choice is duly chock-full ofnappurtenances of culture. Here is a listnof the names Stingo and his friends incessantlyndrop: Aristophanes, Bach,nBonnard, Beethoven, Brahms, up tonWagner, Whitehead, Whitman, ThorntonnWilder. The epigraphs are fromnRilke and Malraux, with the Germannand French originals respectively, whilenthe last page conjures up Edgar AllennPoe.nNot that the reader will find a singleninteresting remark about any of thenabove. He is not supposed to. He is justnsupposed to marvel at the culture ofn”people of culture.”nDoes this give Sophie’s Choice thenflavor of a series of educational televi­n101nChronicles of Culturension programs, a cultural show-off, anlecture on culture.” Not exactly. Thenbook is a sandwich with several layers.nOne is indeed “culture,” and it is writtennin a “cultured” style, that is, asnliterary tyros write when they want tonshow how literary and cultured they are.nThis layer hardly contains a singlenword which would have been pronouncednas insufficiently elegant in anmoth-eaten Victorian drawing room.nHow else can one speak of Bach, friendsnof youth, ideal love, and other subjectsnof college essays for many generations?nThe descriptions of the Nazis and Nazinconcentration camps is another layer,nthis time an educational one, and seemsnto be made from New York educationalntelevision programs on the subject.nThe other layers are what is known inncurrent publishing parlance as “rawnsex,” that is, sex as a moujik (a coarse.nsex, LuaL IS, sex as a -muujiK ^a cuaise,nloutish peasant) would arduously describenit. It is written in a moujik’s lang­nuage without a trace of culture, educationnor civilized manners. Any moujiknfrom a remote Russian or Chinese villagencould write this kind of layer, andnwould be hugely tickled by the fact thatnsimple filth has a market in New York.nMr. Styron’s layers do not mix—theynare like many books in one. All of themnare commercially necessary. If the booknconsisted of only educational layers,nwho would buy it.-‘ But if it consisted ofnexclusively moujik layers, the potentialnbuyers would say: “This kind of stuffnwe can hear for free in locker rooms,nor buy as pure hard porn—much cheapernper pound of obscenity.” The readersnmust consume porn yet feel uplifted byn”literary” and “cultural” references tonBach, ideal love, Edgar Allan Poe andnthe evil of Nazism.nWhen Stingo writes his moujik layer,nhe is like a drunken moujik, sharing hisnsex experiences with other drunkennmoujiks. But the moment he changesnIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles of Culture:nThe Haves, Have-notsn& Have-littlesn”Many ncoconservatives. in clinging to unrealistic }x>liticalnallianres. hae come to lesenibk- waviaid mis-sionaiici. whonswill with drunkards in order to refoim thtm “nfrom ‘Xfl Ronde, or the Dance of Labels”nby Paul GottfriednAlso:nOpinions & Views—Commendables—In FocusnWaste of Money—The American ProsceniumnStage— Screen—Music—Liberal Cul lurenJournalism—Polemics & Exchangesnnn