tional freedom and vivacity, a lessonnvifomen have generally taught men innHawkes’s fiction.nThe Passion Artist presents a terriblenand terrifying vision: antilife, anti-intellectual,nantihistory. It is, hovi^ever, anlogical result of the inverted premisesnupon which Hav?kes rests his case. It is anvision of primal horror, this lust forndeath as mankind waits in the gardennpassing the time with sexual gymnasticsnthat dehumanize him. No conventionalnpagan writer has this vision in preciselynthe same way. One would have to be anpost-Christian pagan to see as Hawkesndoes.nThe consensus is that there is somethingnspecial about his style, but nonagreement about what it is. He is anprofessional to his fingertips. The carefullyncrafted sentences are evidencenenough. The figurative language, exceptnwhen it is merely grotesque ornament,nshows a sensitivity to observed detail.nI think, however, that one can begin tonexplain his style on the principle thatnthere is less than meets the eye. If onengives credibility to his opaque vision,none can understand the regularity withnwhich he misses the point. What onenshould keep in mind, however, is thatnhe misses the point because he has notnseen it. His,writing is like the paintingnof a nearsighted artist who will not wearnhis glasses.nX he fictional world of Ralph de Toledanonis intelligible because there is anpattern of cause and effect and becausenthe enduring values upon which we perceiventhat life can be understood arenclearly stated. Devil Take Him deals innpart with the theme of death but in anradically different way than The PassionnArtist. Death is not the end of the protagonist’snbeing, but only the beginningnof serious religious ruminations on thenstate of his immortal soul. The Godnquestion, deviously pursued through thenDevil question, occupies most of thenreflections tenuously attached to thennarrative. Paul Castelar, a good writernwho might have been great, a journalistnand a secret agent, leaves money in hisnwill to subsidize the writing of his biography.nPeter Minot, an indifferentnwriter, is picked for the job. He conductsna series of interviews, each intervieweenhaving a different perspective on Paul’sncharacter. Notes, diaries and an unpublishednautobiographical essay are alsonuncovered. The narrative mode is thatnof the thriller with ambiguous theologicalnwaves, the form used with such skillnby Graham Greene. The pattern is thatnof the observer-secret searcher beingnput in a relation to an older, powerfulnfigure who will finally have a profoundneffect upon the seemingly neutral observer:nIshmael/Ahab (Moby Dick),nMarlowe/Kurtz (Heart of Darkness),nCarraway/Gatsby (The Great Gatsby).nHis task: “Find out why he was so bignon the God bit and on damnation.” Inncontrast to Hawkes’s antihistoricalnstance, de Toledano gives great significancento history. Paul Castelar has anhistory and is part of history; only bynunderstanding that can sense be madenof his ambiguities. Konrad Vest’s minusculenhistory means nothing even afternhe uncovers the sum of his own secrets.nIt is evident that Paul is looking fornthe answer to some question. Unable tonlove because his heart is in handcuffs,nhe never reaches his potential as anwriter, remaining instead a spiritualnwanderer. He is characterized by variousnfriends as cruel, the victim of an undevelopednheart, of having made a pactnwith the Devil, and as a heretic fornthinking that the key to heaven or hellnis in his pocket. Peter becomes enoughnlike Paul for others to notice the growingnidentification. “Paul wants to benyou,” one of the most perceptive friendsnsuggests. The biography is Paul’s way ofnfreeing his soul finally. But from what?nPaul’s quotation from Charles Williamsnprovides a key. “Deep, deeper thannwe believe, lie the roots of sin. It is innthe good that they exist; it is in the goodnthat they thrive and send up sap and producenthe black fruits of hell.” Paul isnsinful, not evil, searching for the certitudenhe identifies with priests. “But theynnnare part of a system of certainty, whateverntheir personal doubts and rationalizations.nThey have a key which none ofnus has. The born-and-bred Catholic enjoysnthis, but the rest of you alwaysnwonder what it is he knows that youndon’t.” Being born clear George Santayanancalled it. Paul writes of whatnthe world no longer believes, “of goodin-evilnor good-and-evil,” that profoundnand mysterious mixture of hope andnhopelessness Konrad Vost can nevernunderstand. Like Dante, Paul starts “nelnmezzo del cammin, ” in the middle ofnlife’s journey in a dark wood. God, thenDevil, Adam, Eve, original sin are fornPaul topics so ancient they need no corroborativenevidence.nPart of Paul’s problem is that hencomes to God by way of a belief in damnation.nFirst, he believes that he isndamned; then he feels that the Devilnhas given up on him; then he is unablento distinguish between God and thenDevil. The wood is dark indeed. In annepiphany God reaches out to him. “Thenvoid was filled . . . with exultation, andnhe was sure that what he had nevernunderstood, he understood now.”nAfter having served the Devil, hearingnthe Good News is so startling thatnPaul’s heresy is born. He believes thatnhe is relieved of the anxious problemsnof the human condition, removed fromnconsiderations of good and evil and thenfear of damnation because his salvationnis assured. Certain that he is the Lord’snanointed, he forgets how much he needsnto remember that he is a man. Dying,nPaul sees something, the identity ofnwhich Peter has been trying to figurenout from the beginning. Was it the Devilnwho appeared to remind Paul of his existence?nWas it despair? Or was it somethingnelse —that knowledge of thenhuman condition the simple have whichnexplains why God loves and forgives us?n”It may be that in writing your book,nin digging through the achievement andnthe trash of Paul’s life, you really hadnanother assignment—to find Paul’s soulnand return it to him. It may be that untilnyou do, you will be Paul Castelar, notnmmmmm^mmilnJuly/August 1080n