ing power of the free will a sacrosanctntenet. Because he abhorred all aestheticnor political theories which denigratedneither of these doctrines, Dostoevskinparted company with the leading Russianncritic Vissarion Belinsky, a materialist,nand unsuccessfljlly warned his countrymennin The Possessed about the spiritualnemptiness of political radicalism. EvennTolstoy’s professed belief in the determinismnof historical “forms” should not,nRzhevsky demonstrates, obscure his convictionnthat personal free will gives thosenforms their cognitive “content.” Pierre’sngroping search in War and Peace for thenmeaning of life, concluding in the bourgeoisnsatisfactions of fiamily life, is manifestlyna spiritual exercise of the wUl.nAs important as the individual is innRussian literature, the ego is nonethelessnmeasured against the Christian standardsnof humility, love, and service.nWithout these guides, Dostoevski’s FathernZossima explains, evil follows:nEveryone strives to keep his individuality,neveryone vifants to secure thengreatest possible fiillness of life fornhimself. But meantime all his eflfortsnresult not in attaining fullness of lifenbut self destruction, for instead of selfrealizationnhe ends up by arriving atncomplete solitude This terrible individualismnmust inevitably have annend.nThis is a prescient indictment of modernnAmerican culture, where “terrible individualism”nhas not yet had an end, thoughnmeaningftil fiction almost has. Of course,ngreat literature has virtually disappearednin Russia, too, for a different reason,nthough not as different as is sometimesnsupposed.nMany Western critics believe thatn20th-century Russian literature is moribundnbecause it is “too ideological.” Onnthe contrary, Rzhevsky demonstratesnthat the fault is that it is too little ideological.nThat is, because communismndoes not permit anyone to think and feelnindependently, artists cannot expressn”the active and honest involvement ofntheir own thought and emotional com­nIGHHI^^HHMHMnChronicles of Culturenmitments.” Hence, “it would be morenappropriate in this regard to speak of thenideological hypocrisy, rather than thenideological enthusiasm of Soviet fiction.”nIt would seem appropriate, too, to ascribenthe decline of the Western novelnnot to the predominance of bourgeoisnvalues but to the absence of any meaningfulnideology, in Rzhevsky’s sense,nthough here the philosophical vacuumnis often openly confessed, even perverselynaffirmed as a positive good.nThrough “original” and “self-assertive”ncharacters, modem American authorsntry to convince themselves and thefrnreaders that the autonomous self neednbow to no suprapersonal imperatives.nBut the repeated Mures of such soullessnand egotistic creations to establish anynsignificance in thefr existence or to formnsatisfactory relationships with anyonenSentimental Fool?nAram Saroyan: William Sarqyan;nHarcourt Brace Jovanovich; SannDiego.n^XHliam Saroyan: My Name is Sarqyan;nCoward-McCann; New York.nby Mark Royden WinchellnAram Saroyan tells us that in the afl:ermathnof his parents’ unsuccessful try atnmarriage, his much-abused mother threwna typewriter at her husband.n”‘I don’t want it,’ she yelled. ‘It onlynwrites one thing anyway.’n’What’s that?’ Bill asked.n'”I love people … I love people … Inlove people…'” Carol chanted at him.nUnlike Jonathan Swift, who detestednmankind but got along tolerably wellnwith individual persons, William Saroyannwas a famous humanitarian whose swinishnbehavior toward family, friends, andnDr. Winchell is author o/William F.nBuckley, Jr. (Twayne).nnnelse, including the reader, manifests thenaesthetic and moral felsity of such a view.nRzhevsky is understandably heartenednby the sporadic revival of Russian fictionnthrough the work of men like Pasternaknand Solzhenitsyn. By reasserting “the religiousnsense of communion with a transcendentnorder of things,” these men actnas a “reminder of values and beUefe thatnhave been eroded or completely lost innthe West as well as in the Soviet Union.”nIndeed, if Dostoevski, Tolstoy, and Solzhenitsynnare correct in believing thatnspfritual regeneration must precede anynmajor social or cultural advance, thennRussians and Americans of every socialnand economic class must rediscover thentruth dramatized in the poignant conclusionnof Crime and Punishment whennthe murderer Raskolnikov opens thenBible and begins to read. Dncasual acquaintances makes him a casenstudy in liberal sentimentality. AlthoughnSaroyan himself has long since beennrelegated to a minor niche in the literarynhistory of the 1930’s, many of his attitudesntoward life and art are still very muchnwith us.nIn 1957, Edmund Fuller characterizednthe self-righteous amorality of Saroyannand company as the “new compassion.”nSuch a view of the world amounts to ancanonization of ethical relativism, or—nmore properly—ethical populism; fornhere good becomes an inherent propertynof the social outcast and evil is a termnto describe only the rich and powerful.nThis sensibility, according to Fuller, “maynbe the most unwholesome and dangerousnsingle symptom in modern literature,nfor as there is nothing more appealingnthan the cloak of compassion, therenis nothing more treacherous when it isnfalse.”nTo find a credo for the new compassionnone could hardly do better than tonlook at the saccharine preface to Saroyan’snmost celebrated play. The Time of Yourn