from it of the ‘values’ that ought to benobtained elsewhere, i.e., the moral,nsocial, and philosophical values whichnliterature and art were once expected toncommunicate.” Richard Poirier in Thencontemporary American women muddlingnalong in an attempt to achieve independence,nself-fulfillment, and satisfactorynrelations with those less-thanadmirablencreatures, men. If Hawkes’sn”This book is thoroughly cerebral: it uses eroticism to arouse thought.n-Timen”Reading Hawkes, we are as we are when wc approach orgasm if we are compelled bynhim.”n—Village Voicen”Sexuality is emblematic of spiritual virtue.”nPerforming 5^^makes the same point:n”Literature has only one responsibility—nto be compelled and compelling aboutnits own inventions.”nHawkes once said, “It seems to menthat firtion should achieve revenge for allnthe indignities of our childhood; itnshould be an act of rebellion against allnthe constraints of the conventionalnpedestrian mentality around us.” Innrebelling against such constraints,nHawkes has become a “writer’s writer,”nan author whose works are structurallynand stylistically challenging and opaquenin meaning, resistant to objective analysis.nHe makes readers uncomfortablenbecause they sense a remarkable imaginationnat work—striking imagery, startlingnsituations, original expression, singularnstylistic feats—but, perhaps taintednby that conventional pedestrian mentality,nthey don’t know what to make ofnit all. Consequently, the writer’s writernappears often on lists of importantnwriters but infrequently on the shelvesnof readers.nIn contrast to Hawkes’s self-reflexive,nnonmimetic fiction, the stories in AlicenAdams’s To See You Again are clearlynrepresentations of contemporary Americannlife. Adams displays no inclination toncreate aesthetic worlds as increments tonordinary reality, and language for her is anvehicle of expression and not an end innitself. These stoties, many of them set innor around San Francisco, usually treatn22inChronicles of Culturen—New York Times Book Reviewnfiction can be considered a rebellionnagainst the constraints of conventionalnpedestrian mentality, Adams’s can benseen as a tribute to conventional pedestriannUberal and feminist mentality.nHawkes identifies his subject as “thatnwisp of shell-pink space shared equally, Inam convinced, by the pornographic narrativen(in color photographs) and the lovenlyric, from the troubadours, say, to thenpresent. Thus parody, archaic tones, andnan overall comic flavor were inevitable, asnwere sources and influences.” He namesnhis sources in French erotic literature andnsays the novel was conceived “in a reverienabout de Sade.”nVirginie, the eleven-year-old narrator,nadmits immediately that she is as impossiblenas the story she tells, which confirmsnBusch’s characterization of Hawkesnas “a geographer of the impossible.” Innalternating chapters, Virginie narratesnher life in a French country estate in 1740n(the year of de Sade’s birth, Hawkes informsnus) and her life in a Paris apartmentnin 1945. Her 18th-century life isnlived with a man referred to only asnSeigneur, who selects five women at antime to instruct in the art of pleasingnmen. As they undertake their novitiate,nthe women receive symbolic names suchnas Finesse and Volupte. When they completenthe course, which includes suchnpeculiar activities as sexual dalliance withndogs, fellatio with pigs, wearing featherednunderpants, having bees swarmntheir naked bodies, and seducing a priestnnnin his confessional booth, they have a colorfulnbutterfly tattooed on their bottoms,nare called Noblesse, warnednagainst marriage and receive their firstnassignments. Virginie serves as a kind ofnobserver-assistant for all this. Her 20thcenturynlife is lived with a Paris taxi-drivernwho presides over a household of fivenprostitutes. Her role as observer of sexualn”charades” is essentially the same. Indeed,nthe circumstances of her two livesnare intricately parallel, though aristocraticnin one case and plebeian in the other.nHawkes has said that his principal concernsnas a writer are imagination, innocence,nand sex. These concerns arenclearly apparent in this novel; in fact, thenthree become blended or equated. Thenmost imaginatively kinky sex, with allnthe sweat, dirt, blemishes, and animalismninvolved, is glorified as beautiful andninnocent in this unabashedly pornographicnnovel. And one need feel nonguilt in reading it, of course, because,nafter all, it is not an imitation of life; it isnan aesthetic realm of words, literarynparody, linguistic play, divorced fromnmoral, social, and philosophical valuesnthat ought to be obtained elsewhere. Wenmust not let Hawkes’s obvious penchantnfor perverted titillation and his degradationnof marriage and religion distract usnfrom his artistry in images, his sophisticatednstructuring, his experimentalnaesthetic vision.nUnlike Hawkes, Alice Adams is nongeographer of the impossible. The situationsnin her stories are not only possiblenbut (alas!) typical, at least among thenpeople of whom she writes. Her subject isn”affairs.” Adultery apparently is not annitem in her vocabulary, nor is any similarnsynonym; she simply relies on adjectivesnto discriminate among types of affairs:noverwhelming, intemperate, searing,nflagrant, passionate, ill-advised, Latinn(involving a Mexican), legendary, passinglynsatisfactory, lonely, serious, miserable,npunishing, and silly—just to note anfew. These affairs occur in stories thatnshare many characteristics. The womennare unmarried and competent in somen