is provided. We see Antigone’s despairnin the war-torn and decadent Thebesnwhere the love of a brother for a sister is anaime, but Yourcenar’s choice for justicen(the will of divine love) is given no meaning;nthe overwhelming sense of futilitynand the imagery of death are all that remainnin the mind after reading thisnpiece. The failure of expressionism lies innits one-dimensionality: one can see onlynthe angst—one can’t get around ornabove it.nWhat is Mme. Yourcenar’s “notionnof love” ? The love crisis from which shenwrites stems from “absolute love,” whichnis both a “disease” and a “vocation.”nLater in her preface total love is said to involvenhumility (the only virtue mentioned),ninevitable deception, latentnviolence and selfish demands. She saysnthat this “mad, scandalous” love isnpermeated by the mystical power ofntranscendence, which exists only withinnhuman beings. Reference is made ton”worshipping” the lover, and she evenncalls her lover God in the dairy. The religiousnovertones of the language are strikinglynreminiscent of the medieval literamrenof courtly love, which originated innthe songs of wandering French troubadors.nThe tradition oi amour courtois,nthough it involved much that was obviouslynimmoral, nonetheless attemptednto mirror in romantic love the self-denialnand virtue of the religious life. In thenromances of that period, love is alwaysnseen as an ennobling and virtue-instillingnexperience. In Mme. Yourcenar’snworld, however, only the religious languagenremains, drained of all of its positivenmoral meaning. What is left is morenakin to the dark gods of the blood ofnD.H. Lawrence, with the attendant deception,nviolence and selfishness. Thendeification of love has turned it into andemon. The true nature of love existsnwhen the lover is turned toward the objectnof love—the spouse, God—and tonthat extent self is lost. When the love itselfn(or more narrowly, sexual intercourse)nbecomes the center, the lovers inevitablynuse each other for the sake of annever-elusive experience. This is Mme.nYourcenar’s world as she describes it innher diary notations:nNothing dirtier than the ego.nThe only horror is not to be used.nTurn me into whatever you want,neven a screen, even a metallic conductor.nGod is everything that exceeds us,nthat got the better of us. Death isnGod, and the world, and the idea ofnGod for the weak wrestler who letsnhimself be thrown by the [angels’]nhuge wingbeats. You are God: youncould break me.nBetween us and death there is sometimesnonly the width of one singlenperson. Remove this person andnthere would only be death.nC.S. Lewis, in The Four Loves, puts itnanother way:nThe god [Eros] dies or becomes andemon unless he obeys God. Itnwould be well if, in such case, henalways died. But he may live on,nmercilessly chaining together twonmutual tormentors, each raw all overnwith the poison of hate-in-love, eachnravenous to receive and implacablynrefusing to give, jealous, suspicious,nresentful, struggling for the uppernhand, determined to be free and tonallow no freedom, living in ‘scenes.’n. . . The lovers’ old hyperbole ofn’eating’ each other can come horriblynnear to the truth.nThough she would never see it in thesenterms, it is an apt summary of whatnMme. Yourcenar’s “notion of love”nturns out to be.nA here is an element of what onenmight call “self-indulgence” in modernnliterature, and it goes beyond the artistas-everymannseeing universal truthnthrough his own experience. WhennShelley falls upon the thorns of life ournattention is drawn to his bleeding, whiningnself rather than to what thorns meannnnand how to deal with them. Mme. Yourcenar’snconfessional style, where expressionismnbleats out despair, locks us into anhalf-intelligible world. In GiinternGrass’s The Meeting at Telgte, self-indulgencentakes the form of somethingnvery near to a political allegory in whichnGrass himself becomes one of the focusesnof attention. As it is explained in thenafterword by the British scholar LeonardnForster, The Meeting at Telgte is a projectionninto the past of a literary group tonwhich Grass belonged in the years afternWorld War II. This society, known asnGroup 47, was a gathering of Germannwriters and critics who first met in 1947namid the aftermath of the war. Thenleader of the group was Hans WernernRichter, and Grass dedicates the book tonRichter. The group’s purpose was tonrestore German society by restoring itsnlanguage and literature.nThe novel projects Group 47 into then17th cenmry (1647, to be exact), whennthe situation in Germany was much thensame: devastated by brutal war, partitionednby opposing forces but united byna common language—the German ofnLuther—which was in the same anarchicndesuetude as the country itself. Thenwriters of Group 47, living in a countrynpartitioned by the Western countriesnand by the Soviet Union, felt the need tonhold an ironic position.nOne fact about the novel is tmmpetednfrom the dust jacket: Grass himself appearsnas the character Grimmelshausen,nauthor of the satiric baroque novel SimpliciusnSimplicissimus, a role that apparentlynsuits the “master of irony” whonhas “clowned his way to his nation’s mostnserious truths.” Both Grass and Gelnhausenn(as the name is spelled in thennovel) possess the “earthiness and ribaldnironies” which “come as a peasant’s rudentrath.” In The Meeting at Telgte Gelnhausennis a youthful, witty, self-consciousnpeasant who feels out of placenamong the great literary figures but isnperfectly able to deal with the rambunctiousncourtesan-proprietress of the innnwhere the meeting takes place. Afterncausing a major embarrassment he leavesn9nOctobcrl982n