tion of his father’s present spouse. Henrather prefers his biological mummsy,nthe ineffable Nowell, and visits hernnext day at her second husband’snapartment. While there, he becomesnviolently aroused again and throws annashtray into the telly. Nowell in turnngoes into hysterics and calls Stanley tonget his son the hell out of her apartment.nSteve ends up in the still-crazierncare of a female psychiatrist. Beforenthis happens, however, Stanley hadnconsulted another psychiatrist aboutnSteve’s condition. As a doctor andnfriend, he left Stanley with one ofnthose statements of hard-learned wisdomnwe seldom recognize when casuallynuttered in more or less normalncircumstances. “The rewards for beingnsane,” he said, “may not be very manynbut knowing what’s funny is one ofnthem.” With shuddering clarity onenrealizes at once that so few, if any, ofnthe feminist reviews oi Stanley and thenWomen had, for a moment, thoughtnthe book parhcularly funny.nAs an imaginative tract against feminism,nso-called, there isn’t much innAmis’ latest novel to get excited about.nStanley seems basically a decent sort ofnchap. He would never presume to playnProfessor Higgins to any pub’s Pickering,nfor example, and thus demand thenimpossible: “Why can’t a woman benmore like a man?” The whole novelncomes down to the rather more shockingnquestion which is asked of Stanleynby his friend the psychiatrist: “Wouldnyou say, would you assent to the propositionnthat all women are mad?”nStanley waffles, understandably, onnthat one: “Yes. No, not at all,” he says,n”there are exceptions, naturally.”nSo the best that the beleaguerednStanley can bring to the charge ofnmadness in women, generally speaking,nis that there may be exceptions. Itnturns out, in fact, that Susan hasnfeigned a stabbing in the arm andnaccuses Steve of the assault. A medicalnreport on the nature of the woundnundermines the already fast-fadingncredibility of her story. The denouementnto this almost pathetic aspect ofnthe tale is that both principals, Stanleynand Susan, clearly know the truth butnpretend they do not. It is also clear thatnSusan’s bizarre behavior itself is suiScientnmatter, surely, for further psychiatricninquiry. Each prefers, however,nto settle for the accommodation ofna prolonged and tolerable state of mutualndelusion.nBut the more a new sense of awarenessnbeckons Stanley on, the morenuncomfortable he becomes with thencontrolled anguish of having to live—nor indeed of having already lived—anlife of deviously shared illusions withnmost of the women he has known. Hennow recalls the prevailing psychic patternnof his former wife, Nowell: “Shenmakes the past up as she goes along.nYou know, like communists.” Thisnmay at first sound only mildly amusing,nbut when such a pattern itselfndaily informs the domestic reality of anhome, then the result may be nothingnless than harrowing—and that is preciselynwhat it had become for Stanley.nThe harrowing of Stanley Duke isnfurther aggravated by the encounternwith his son’s female psychiatrist, onenDr. Trish Collins, who, in the mostnliteral sense possible, has driven Stevenup a very real tree on the grounds ofnthe institution where he is incarcerated.nNowell, the biological mummsy,nis called upon literally to sweet-talknpoor Steve down from the tree of hisndilemma. There’s something madlynEdenic about the scene, but any suggestionnto that effect probably oughtn’tnto go much further than simply to saynso.nIt is only in the last dozen or sonpages of Stanley and the Women thatnits provocative aspect comes fully intonview. Stanley’s psychiatrist friend refersnto what he takes to be the compulsivencapacity of women to—if you’llnpardon the demotic—screw up a manncompletely:nYou can’t be new to feeling thenedge of the most powerfulnweapon in their armory. Younmust have suffered before fromnthe effect of their havingnnoticed, at least the brighternones among them havennoticed, that men are different,nmen quite often wondernwhether they’re doing the rightnthing and worry about it, mennhave been known to blamenthemselves for behaving badly,nmen not only feel they’ve madenmistakes but on occasion willnactually admit having done so,nand say they’re sorry, and asknto be forgiven, and promise notnnnto do it again, and mean it.nThink of that! Mean it. Allnbeyond female comprehension.nWhich incidentally is whynthey’re not novelists and mustnnever be priests.nIt is slightiy odd that Kingsley Amisnshould allow one of his characters toncontend that women as writers do notnmake proper novelists. This is obviouslynnot the case, though the same overwroughtncharacter goes on to observenthat though women are competing onnequal terms with men in so manynplaces, “they still finish behind men”nand can’t even produce “a few decentn(bleeping) jugglers.” He might just asnwell have cited, for that matter, masternchess players, assorted engineers, andnmusical composers of great and originalngenius.nIn any event, one has to tread carefullynin this kind of territory. Men arenno doubt as mad in the throes of theirnmale aggressiveness as women are saidnto be in the circumlocutions of theirnpeculiar logic. What one can fairly saynabout women, in comparison withnmen, is that the former have neverninitiated anything in the arts—andnlittle enough in the sciences—that hasnhad any significant or truly originalnvalue. Women in the arts tend toncopy — or, more accurately, tonfeminize — what men have alreadyndone and which the latter, in mostncases, have done infinitely better. It isnonly recentiy that the intuitive gifts ofnwomen have begun to produce worksnof some originality and freshness ofnview. It will probably remain true,nhowever, that Shakespeare knew infinitelynmore about women than anynWoman as Author has ever knownnabout men.nAnd yet it was only a matter ofntime—as well as the steady erosion ofnmale sensitivity brought on by thenexcesses of the women’s movement innits more paranoid aspects—that somenmen would start writing novels whichnattempt to disclose the inner workingsnof the female psyche itself, which,nincidentally, is the worst and crudestnway of stripping anyone naked. So itnmay be something other than a literaryncoincidence that in the same year,n1984, Kingsley Amis had publishednStanley and the Women in Great Britainnand that his opposite number innJUNE 1986/19n