vagaries and incongruities can be defendednas being part of the parody. Manynof them result from carelessness and ancavalier attitude toward artistic restraint.nThis novel is another manifestation ofnthe flight from center. The retreat of certaintynhas paradoxically generated a renaissancenof credulity. The implied reasoningnworks this way: Since we can’t bensure of anything nowadays, all things arenequally credible—^flying saucers, conspiracyntheories, cults, &d diets, NationalnEnquirer headlines, parapsychologicalnphenomena, in-search-of TV programs,nand so on. And the renaissance is floweringnin academia as well as among thenmasses. Fiction and history are equated;nall texts are considered indeterminatenin meaning. A Bloodsmoor Romance isna showcase for this retreat-of-certaintynsyndrome. It is filled with spiritualism,nfentasy, implausibility, and the conflationnof fiction and history. Fantasy has alwaysnbeen a frequent ingredient in literature,nof course, but the fentasy in thisnnovel and in much contemporary fictionnis a new variety with a different sourcenand motivation. Traditional fantasynachieves its effect by being recognizablyndistinct from the real and often clarifiesnand criticizes the real. In contrast, thenfentasy in Oates’s novel is an expressionnof cynicism, reflecting doubt about thenefi&cacy of reason and the possibility forna criterion of truth, confusion in values,nsuspicion of all norms, and disillusionmentnwith the question of meaning. Andnthis cynicism accounts for the novel’snlack of restraint: no foundation exists forna discriminating inner check upon a selfindulgentnimagination.nJriction on the periphery trivializesnthe function of literature. Today we requirena literature that feels obliged tonresist the centrifugal impulses of contemporarynculture and initiate movementnback toward center. Certainty, ofncourse, is not given to man to possess,nbut the quest for it defines his destiny.nTo dissuade him from that quest is tonstrip him of his armor (gainst despair. DnThe Illusion & the DisillusionednJorge Semprun: Wiat a BeautifulnSunday!; Hajrcourt Brace Jovanovich;nNew York.nKonstantin Simis: USSR: The CorruptnSociety: The Secret World of SovietnCapitalism; Simon & Schuster; NewnYork.nby Charles A. MosernJorge Semprun’s book bears threenepigraphs: from the Czech Milan Kundera,nthe Russian Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn,nand the Frenchman Andre Breton. Thenquotation from Kundera best sums upnthe objective of Semprun’s writing:n”man’s struggle against power is thenDr. Moser is professor of Slavic at thenGeorge Washington University innWashington, D.CnChronicles of Culturenstru^e of memory gainst oblivion.”nWhat a Beautiful Sunday.’ is not sonmuch a novel—^althougji it is also that—nas an essay in self-definition throughnautobiography (Semprun becomes then”novelist of oneseff,” in his phrase) and anprofound meditation, likewise throughnautobiography, on the condition ofnmodem European man confronted withnthe greatest aggregations of state powernthe world has known, systems whichnseek to expunge the memory of truth,nthe record of history, as a means ofnbolstering that power. For many yearsnSemprun moved within the esotericnworld of the communist movement, acceptingnits philosophical premises andnits organizational discipline for the sakenof its future promises. But now he hasnbroken away from Marxism and addednan impressive book to the list of thosenwhich can help us comprehend thennnmind of totalitarianism.nA Spaniard, Semprun emigrated tonFrance after Franco’s rise to power. He isnperhaps best known for his film Z, a standardnsocialist-realist treatment of thengovernment of the Greek “colonels” institutednby the coup of 1967 (very likelynthe choice of subject here was influencednby the horror Semprun’s autobiographicalnhero in the novel feels at the Britishnsuppression of the Greek communistnuprising after the Second World War).nThe film’s artistic method, though familiarnto audiences in the Eastern bloc,nseemed a revelation to naive Westernnintellectuals, and the movie had a longnfirst run and continues to emerge innAmerican theaters. However, after thenPrague spring of 1968, the cliches of Znyielded surprisingly quickly to the subtlenbut horrifying approach of anothernfilm, The Confession, about the Praguentrials of 1952 (from the novel it seemsnthat Semprun visited Prague in 1968 innthe vain hope of photographing many ofnthe places Miiere that tragedy occurred).nThe Confession is both artistically skillfillnand politically powerful in chroniclingnthe consolidation of communist authoritynin Czechoslovakia. Consequently itndid not please the arbiters of our culture,nand after a brief run it disappearednfrom view and is rarely mentioned. Whatna Beautiful Sunday! is in the traditionnof Tloe Confession; hopefiaUy it wfll be asninfluential as it deserves to be.nAs the novel opens, its hero, GerardnSorel, a prisoner at Buchenwald, has leftna group of his fellow prisoners on a DecembernSunday in 1944 to adnure atree,nprobably a beech, in the midst of ansnowy field. Though a communist, Sorelnis a man of independent mind and deeplynEuropean spfrit, one always consciousnof both spatial and temporal parallels.nFor instance, he emphasizes the ironynthat his camp was built on the spot nearnWeimar, the Ettersberg, where Goethenused to walk with his feithM Eckermann.nInitiaUy the camp was to have beennnamed Ettersberg, but the NationalnSocialist Cultural Association of Weimarnprotested that a place designed to gathern