PerceptiblesnJames Leasor: WJO Killed SirnHarry Oakes? Houghton Mifflin;nBoston.nTo say that life imitates art is tonput too fine a point on things.nConsider, for example, the casenof Sir Harry Oakes. Oakes, a selfmadenmillionaire who gained hisnwealth by sinking a gold minenbeneath a Canadian lake, wasnfound murdered in his lavishnestate on the Bahamas in 1943.nThe murder was performed in angruesome and bizarre manner.nThe prime suspect: his son-inlaw,na rake who ran oflf with thendaughter, a playboy who madenmoney by running a chickennfarm. Add the Duke of Windsorn(the man who, thanks to WallisnSimpson, would not be king),ntwo dubious cops from Miami,nthe Mafia, Thomas Dewey, thenU.S. Army, and an equally fulsomencast of minor characters.nLife in this case is not imitatingnart, but the lowest sort of pulpnfiction. DnHerbert Schlossberg: IdolsnFor Destruction: ChristiannFaith and Its Confrontationnwith American Society; ThomasnNelson; Nashville, TN.nWhen Jehu, an ancient king ofnIsrael, found his realm slidingninto idolatry, he solved thenproblem summarily: he gatherednall the idolaters together in ansingle building and slaughterednthem. Such a decisive course ofnaction, of course, is fortunatelynnot open to any religionists in thenpluralistic democracy of 20thcenturynAmerica. However, as annarticulate and widely read Christiannscholar, Herbert Schlossbergnpractices a less bloody andnmore helpful version of Jehu’sntactic: he has assembled the ideasninforming all of the regnantnidolatries into one book, wherenhe annihilates them as mer­nWASTE OF MONEYnDubious FraternizingnIn Praise of What Persists;nEdited by Stephen Bei^; Harpern& Row; New York.nby Joseph SchwartznIn Praise of What Persists is an”Wouldn’t-it-be-a-good-idea”nkind of book. “Wouldn’t it be angood idea,” says the editor, “tonbring together a number ofnessays about what writers believenhas influenced their work”nSuch books are almost alwaysnMures or at the least disappointing;nthis collection is no exception.nIt does not bring togethernessays by “leading” writers asnpromised, although there are anfew prominent writers presented.nIt so happens that 15 of the 24nessays appeared elsewhere, onenas long ago as 1972. It is unlikelynthen to be the case that “most ofnthem agreed to contribute” onlynwhen they were encouraged tonrethink the subject of influencenDr. Schwartz is with the Englishndepartment at MarquettenUniversity.ncilessly as Jehu did the priests ofnBaal, and with sharper weapons.nMr. Schlossberg compellinglyndemonstrates that Westernncivilization rests upon Judeo-nChristian underpinnings andnthat, by weakening that foundation,nthe idolatries of modernityninevitably drop society intonanarchy, barbarism, and totalitarianism.nHence, even thosenwho do not share Mr. Schlossberg’snhopes for the next worldnhave reason to laud his defense ofnthe best and most humane in thisnone. nn”in the light of their own experience.”nThe idea of “influence” as usednby Berg in his introduction (thenessayists are to “illuminate thenquestion of literary influence” ) isnto be interpreted very broadly.nWhile some writers specify theirndebt to another or other writers,nothers “reach back in their experience”nto connect the conditionsnwhich “have formed theirnwork.” In a provocative essaynJohn Hawkes tells of the influencenon his work of a cold, darknAtlantic island: “I’m obsessednwith the sea and islands, andnwhereas Donne says that ‘no mannis an island,’ I believe that we’renall islands—^inaccessible, driftingnapart, thirsting to be exploited,nmagical.” Hayden Carruth on theninfluence of jazz on his poetry isnunexpected and very tantalizing.nnnBerg’s hope is that those whonemphasize non-literary influencenwill “break new ground atnthe source.” The hope is notnjustified. Autobiography, biography,nand the ubiquitous interviewnhave always provided thenmaterials Berg thinks of as sonspecial. Influence studies, too,nhave been around for a very longntime.nThe underlying premise of thencollection is uncertain: “I wantnthe author to tell me. Only thenperson who created what I lovenwill do.” I do not wish to raise inndetail the whole question of thenintentional fallacy here, but itndoes present a strong case fornmaking one wary of an author’snexpression of the meaning of hisnwork outside the work itself T. S.nEUot always would refer readersnto his poems when they wouldnask him what they were about. D.nH. Lawrence’s advice to trust thentale not the teller is still jjertinentnNevertheless, one essay in thisncollection is noteworthy, ReynoldsnPrice’s “For Ernest Hemingway.”nIt is a loving presentationnof Price’s growing awarenessnof Hemingway’s “lifelong”nsubject: “saintliness.” Most ofnHemingway’s work seemsnintended to enhance, evenncreate if necessary, the lovenof creation in its witnessesnand thereby to confirm annapproach by the workerntoward goodness, literalnvirtue, the manly performancenof the will of God.nSaintliness, I’ve called itn{goodness if you’d rather,nthough saintliness suggestsnat least the fierce need, itsndesperation)—a saint being,nby one definition, a life whichnshows God lovable.n^^27nMay 1984n