Some Bathos & An Apotheosis of ImmaturitynChristopher Hope: A SeparatenDevelopment; Charles Scribner’snSons; New York.nDoris Lessing: The Making of the RepresentativenFor Planet 8; Alfred A.nKnopf; New York.nby Maura A. DalynD oris Lessing’s most recent novelnand Christopher Hope’s first novel arendivergent reflections on one particularlynmodern literary topos: the difficultynof the individual’s defining himself innrelation to society. This involvesnanother traditional literary subject, thendisplacement and consequent transformationnof the individual. These motifsnare, in turn, related to the sempiternalnphilosophical conundrum regardingnthe perennial confusion between appearancenand reality. In neither book,nhowever, are these topoi fully or evennpartially developed. The authors fail toncome to grips with these questions onnanything but the most superficialnlevel. This superficiality results fromnthe evasion of responsibility whichnpermeates both books. In these novels,nthe societies and individuals are incorrigiblynirresponsible when they facenphilosophical issues—a defect thatnthey seem to have contracted from thenauthors themselves. What is the naturenof this irresponsibility? The nature ofnthe fault is that Mr. Hope wants, at allncosts, to satirize, and Miss Lessing tontranscend everything. These alone arenhardly hanging faults and are certainlynthe authors’ prerogatives, but what isnmore serious is the fact that thesentendencies toward pseudotranscendencenand the glorification of the pseudoheroicnare really recipes for provingnwhatever vague, philosophical, unfoundednargument one wishes, for sup-nDr. Daly is assistant professor of Frenchnat the University of Notre Dame.nporting whatever chic pose suits one’snfancy. Finally, these stances are simplynexcuses: for bathos in Miss Lessing’sncase and for the attempted apotheosisnof immaturity in Mr. Hope’s.nBoth stories are recounted in the narcissisticnmanner that passes among thenliterati these days for “talented” andn”scintillating.” “This is particularly truenof A Separate Development, the slickntone of which is simultaneously reminiscentnof John Irving’s The World Accordingnto Garp and New York cocktail-partynGesprach. The problemsnthat come to light in Lessing’s andnHope’s novels are not, however, justnliterary—they are political, as well. Innboth books there is an evasion of individualnand societal responsibility. MissnLessing’s protagonist, Doeg thenMemory-maker, is delivered from thennecessity of defining himself in relationnto his society via a synthetic mysticismnwhich allows each individual to becomenanother and to join after death in then”dance and flow” of the universe. Thisntransformation is portrayed in snatchesnof broken, dreamlike conversationsnwhich never really resolve anything. Innaddition, the delineation between appearancesnand reality is blurred in thentranscendent cosmic unity which is proposednby Miss Lessing as a conclusion.nEventually, neither novel is the evolutionnsuggested by the title. The inconclusivennndepiction of the hero’s transformation,nand finally the absence of verisimilitudenare especially disturbing lacunae sincenthey are the very subjects which supposedlynprovide Miss Lessing’s philosophicalngroundwork.nMr. Hope’s novel, like Miss Lessing’s,nwaffles. He slickly solves the problem ofnhis protagonist’s identity by stating thatnthe latter is unclassifiable. Although hisnnovel is supposedly a serious political attacknon apartheid in South Africa, thentransformation of the so-called hero,nHarry Moto, is confined to a series ofnhighly improbable adolescent adventures.nThe psychic or intellectual effectsnof Moto’s experiences are, at best, onlynreferred to elliptically. Mr. Hope meansnHarry Moto to be the likable victim in ansatire against the horrors—both pettynand gigantic—of the South Africannsocial and political system, but Motonemerges as merely a youthful manifestationnof adolescent bigotry, ignorance,nsuperficiality, and prurience. It seemsnpoor judgment to attempt to criticize thenfailings of the adult world through ancharacter who epitomizes all the punynvices of youth.nDespite these basic flaws. The Makingnof the Representative for Planet 8 and AnSeparate Development do have some redeemingnqualities. Miss Lessing does asknsome provocative philosophical questions,nand her prose occasionally sharesnthe clarity of the ice and snow whichnabound in her work. Mr. Hope displaysnan eye for the preposterous and exploits itndeftly. In its good moments, A SeparatenDevelopment can be compared withnsuch classics as Ralph Ellison’s The InvisiblenMan. The weaknesses and strengthsnof Hope’s and Lessing’s novels becomenmore evident when one analyzes theirnplots more closely.nM iss Lessing’s novel is a sciencefictionnaccount of the demise of Planetn8—a once beautiful, fertile world inhabitednby a civilized peace-loving peoplenFebruary 1983n