of decent men in the arts, and HermannWouk is among the more honorablenand admirable of our native writers.nBut the world has well rewarded Mr.nWouk for his efforts, and althoughnthese are decent and readable and evennvirtuous, they do not stir the depthsnthat are needed in art, to aerate ournsouls and to lift our hearts. In the yearsnsince 1945 we have all learned some newnlessons and acquired new needs. Wenhave learned that German torturersnare not unique; we have learned thatnthe Soviets massacred whole peoplesndeliberately, and in Cambodia we havenwatched a leadership decimate its ownnrace. We have discovered that the Chinesenare capable of sending millions tontheir graves and that Vietnamese Marxistsnare also imperialists; we see Africanin flames and tremble on the brink ofnnew holocausts today. In short, we havenlearned so much about the nature ofntotalitarian societies and ideologies, andnabout their conflict with humanness,nthat the World War II experience seemsnto us now a rather simple exercise innruthless brutality and murderousness.nIn such times we can enjoy good artists,nas always, but our craving is forngreatness—and greatness is in very shortnsupply. The comparison may, perhaps,nbe made clearer if Tolstoy is recalled.nHis War and Peace was replete withnacute observations, stirring descriptions,nbelievable characters and dramaticnwar. But over and beyond all that wasnthe brooding and eternal sense of God,nwhose judgment determined the outcomenof the struggle, though the meansnHe employed were so subtle—a delayednmessage, a change in the weather—thatnneither the men who obeyed His summons,nnor those who were defeated,nwere ever really aware or sure of evenntheir own roles.nIt was that great recognition thatnlifted Tolstoy’s work and has kept itnso influential through the years. Andnit is the lack of that assurance, despitenall the other elements—the believablencharacters, the dramatic incidents, thenactual episodic backdrop—that makenWouk’s novels excellent, but notngreat. DnThe Berlin Wall:nTo Be Taken for GrantednCurtis Gate: The Ides of August: ThenBerlin Wall Crisis; M. Evans & Co.;nNew York.nby Lev Navrozovno ne of our favorite pastimes in Moscownwas discussing how quickly humannbeings everywhere take for granted anynnew reality as something inevitable,nMr. Navrozov, a Russian writernliterary critic, now makes his home innRiverdale, New York. He attracted attentionnwith The Education of Levn’Navrozovpublished by Harper’s MagazinenPress.n161nChronicles of Culturennatural, usual. For example, we werensure that once the Soviet regime hadnbeen established in the United States,nin no time at all Americans would justnbe puzzled that someone could see innit something unusual, avoidable or evenninteresting.nImagine someone in 1939 saying:n”The present generation will see a Sovietnwall—yes, of the kind of the China Walln—passing through Berlin—yes, Berlin,nthe capital of Germany, which will benan island amidst a Soviet colony.” Anwild fantasy, of course, yet how fascinating,nfrom the realm of fictionalnliterature.nToday many Americans would bennnpuzzled that there is an author, CurtisnGate, who is interested in the BerlinnWall. Why on earth.^ Isn’t it somethingnnatural, ordinary, humdrum.^ It exists.nSo how can or could it be otherwise.”nWhat’s interesting about it.”nA great deal, as the reader can findnin Gate’s book. The author undertookna labor which recalls both Hercules andnDon Quixote: to interest the public innsomething it perceives as a natural partnof monotonous, dull reality.nFor inhabitants of the Soviet colonynWest Berlin was, as Gate shows, whatnRussians call a “breathing vent.” Preparationsnto stop the vent had long beennafoot, but, of course, the Western intelligencenservices were the last to noticenthem. Yet the population of the Sovietncolony knew or guessed or suspected.nThe exodus to freedom surged past thenthree thousand per day mark. Effectivelyncombining scholarly precision withnpsychological skill. Gate gives both annimpressive documentary panorama ofnthe event and close-ups of individualnhuman destinies involved. One of thenaspects of this panoramic-mosaic viewnis an important insight into the psychologynof freedom. To me this insight wasna revelation. Let me explain why.nvJermany is a Western country.nKant lived in Koenigsberg, not in WhitenPlains. Americans can stereotype then100-odd nations of Russia as bearded,nwild 16th century “Russians.” But theyncan hardly stereotype Germans as patriarchalnOrientals, unable to understandnthe modern Western wisdom ofnthe New York Times’ editorials. Therenwas a danger that the capital of thisnWestern nation would be divided by anwall, and so the inhabitants on theneastern side of the wall would remainnin a Soviet colony forever. The result.”nMore than 3,000 a day escaped fromna Soviet colony to freedom. Yes, butnhow insignificant all these figures arenin relation to those who could havenfled, yet stayed.n”The small flat they [a German fam-n