the cultural and linguistic rootlessnessnimplicit in Petworth’s standard lecturenon “The English Language as a Mediumnof International Communication.”nSimilarly, the otherness of the communistnstate manifests itself not so muchnin the chaos of the country’s five rates ofncurrency exchange as in the prices thensystem exacts for activities, like writing,nwhich to us are comparatively free.nMarisja Lubijova, Petworth’s lively andnprotective guide, pays with mindlessnorthodoxy for a job which lets her onnoccasion escape some of the drabness ofnthe people’s paradise. For the bewitchingnKatya Princip to publish her booksnthe cost is steeper yet, involving complexnmeasures of self-abasement andnbetrayal. The artists and teachers dutifullynparading on the National Day ofnCulture are also bartering a portion ofndignity in return for some security andnthe opportunity to practice their professionnor create art, in however circumscribedna fashion.nYet for all the grim bargains they havenhad to make, it is the women who possessna reality Petworth lacks and whichnthey try to give him. Petworth, describednas a man who had “not much soul to startnwith,” resists living more fully; in fact, henscarcely seems capable of so doiag. Thenprofessor may strike readers as annacademic counterpart of John Le Carre’snashen-souled George Smiley; but ifnPetworth’s spiritual anemia is to be takennas having representative significance, itnis not as a sign of Cold War bum-out butnas a symptom of what the author elsewherenin the novel suggests is then”provisionality” of the West in contrastnto the East’s solidity. In any event,nPetworth creates only limited interest ornconcern on the reader’s part. Despite thenjourney filled with jolts to his inveteratencomplacency, he returns to Heathrow anman who, in several senses, has “nothingnto declare.” Since his capacity fornsuffering appears limited, our sympathyngoes to those characters who remainnbehind in a land whose otherness hasntouched only slightly the sensibilities ofnthis lightweight traveler.nAgainst a background of fast cars,nluxurious living, double agents, andnhigh-stakes international maneuvering,nVassily Aksyonov’s The Island of Crimeanexplores more directiy the theme of thenMure of wiU afflicting the West. Aksyonov’snfirst novel to appear since he camento this country in 1980 has as its imaginativenbase the premise that the Crimea isnan island, instead of a peninsula, whichnthe White Army held against the Red innthe Revolution and which has developedninto a wealthy and free capitalist showcasenin the shadow of the U.S.S.R.—innshort, Russia’s Taiwan. With this Activenpostulate, the book could easily havenbecome a thin political fable, but Aksyonovncreates a detailed and believablensetting in which recognizably contemporaryncurrents are modified in waysnappropriate to this fictional land.nGenerating the novel’s action, forninstance, is a movement for reunificationnwith the Soviet Union called the CommonnFate League, an entity headed bynthe book’s main character, the dashing,nliberal newspaper publisher, racing carndriver, and celebrity, Andrei Luchnikov.nnnThe movement is no simple stand-in for,nsay, unilateral disarmament; for part of itsnappeal is a complex longing the Crimeansnfeel to be part of their motherncountry, even a guilt at having escapednthe horrors communism has inflicted onnher. But in the dilettantish liberalism ofnLuchnikov, in his father’s stalwartndignity, and his back-packing son’snradical agitation for the rights and then(nonexistent) culture of the island’snolder “Yaki” population, we recognizenanalogues to the situation in the West.n1 he book’s clarity of focus, unfortunately,ndoes not equal its vividness ofnsetting. A conflicting mix of subgenresncontributes to the novel’s sense ofndiffusion; such is the blend of comedy,npolitical intrigue, and satire that, notnquite knowing what sort of book he is in,nthe reader does not take seriouslynenough the dangers either to the protagonistnor to the island itself Althoughnthere are a number of well-drawnncharacters (one of the best being a Sovietndiplomat who cannot believe the Crimeansnare seriously contemplatingnFebruary 1985n