24 / CHRONICLESnsmall group of people which havenmuch to do with which books makenthe best-seller lists, which books thenlibraries buy, which books are pickednup for review in other publications,nand, therefore, the reading habits of allnthose people who like to feel that theynbelong to the intellectual elite. I find itnhard to believe that people fromnMaine to California would have paidngood money to buy such a book as ThenWorld According to Garp if the NewnYork literary establishment had notnrecommended it with such cant phrasesnas “rich and humorous” (the NewnYork Times), “Superb … the imaginationnsoars as Irving draws us inexorablyninto Carp’s world” {PublishersnWeekly). By sending Garp to its members,ntherefore, the Book Club didn’tncontribute to the standardizing of thentaste of the country; that had alreadynbeen done. The Book Club was merelynfollowing the lead of the literarynestablishment.nHarvard Goes Southnly following the lead of the literarynestablishment.nWith the reports to its members ofnthese books still in mind, it is instructivento compare them with a veryndifferent kind of review of a very differentnkind of book: Clifton Fadiman’sn1948 review of Graham Greene’s ThenHeart of the Matter:nScobie is maneuvered, withoutnhis quite knowing how it hasncome about, into a positionnwhere he must partake ofnCommunion in a state of sin.nThis to him means quitenliterally eternal damnation.nThe scene at the altar rail innwhich this man, hungering fornGod, torn with guilt and quitenunconscious of the heroicnbeauty of his own character,ntakes God into himself andnby Clyde Wilsonn”Ce sonts les modernes qui font des progies. Nousnsommes betes une fois pour toutes. “nPeguynTombee: Portrait of a Cotton Planternby Theodore Rosengarten, NewnYork: William Morrow; $24.95.nThis curious big book is an amalgamnof left-wing scholarship and commercialnpanache. On the one hand, thenauthor, a Harvard Ph.D. in AmericannCivilization and a missionary to SouthnCarolina, seems to have enjoyed extendednfoundation support during thenproduction of this book, as well as angood deal of paid assistance in thendrudgery of transcription and research.nAnd his work has received respectfulnattention in both the New York Timesnand the New York Times Book Review.nOn the other hand, a generous publishernhas secured for Tombee a bookclubnselection and has allowed thenauthor an indulgent 750 pages to presentnthe biography and diary of a relativelynobscure and historically insignif-nClyde Wilson is a backward Southernnhistorian who does his own research.nicant planter on the Sea Islands of thenSouth Carolina coast. The chainnbookstores, in my portion of the Unionnat least, were piled high with copies ofnTombee for the Christmas trade, suggestingna hope of capitalizing on thencentury-and-a-half-old preoccupationnof the American reading public withnthe Old South that made best-sellersnout of Uncle Tom, Uncle Remus,n”Marse Chan,” Gone With the Wind,nand Roots.nContained within these bulgingncovers are two potentially good books,neach about a third the size of thenartifact that exists. The author seemsnto have discovered, or rather to havenhad pointed out to him, the existencenof an intimate journal of Thomas B.nChaplin, kept over a period of manynyears. Chaplin was a planter in thenisolated region between St. Helenanand Port Royal Sounds inhabited by anfew dozen planter families and somenthousands of slaves. Leave aside thenfact that among those few white fami-nnncondemns himself in his ownnmind to an eternity ofndeprivation, is one of the mostnmoving I have encountered innrecent novels. Its intensity isnexceeded only by the finalnchapters in which Scobie findsnhimself forced to commit thenfinal unforgivable sin whichnputs the human soul outsidenthe mercy of God—selfndestruction in a condition ofndespair.nSuch a review and the book it describesnseem to come from a worldndifferent from Garp or The Witches ofnEastwick. It is interesting to speculatenwhether the standards of the Americannpeople have changed as drastically asnSilverman’s history seems to indicate.nOr is it the standards of the Book-ofthe-MonthnClub that have changed?nlies were a number of remarkable menn(and women), Elliotts, Rhetts, Seabrooks,nand others, of whom Chaplinnwas probably the least interesting.nLeave aside the fact that there arendozens, possibly hundreds, of othernplanter diaries in existence that arenequally or more important than Chaplin’s.n(One sometimes gets the sensenthat this one has assumed immensenimportance among the intelligentsia ofnthe Northeast because it was the onenread by someone from Harvard.)nLeave aside the fact that there arencertainly dozens of scholars equallynqualified to present this material to thenreading public as Mr. Rosengarten.nStill, Chaplin’s diary is an extended,nintimate, and candid record of real lifenin a vanished part of America. And itnis always good to have historical sourcesnmade readily available. Thus, thenpublication of Chaplin’s diary, appropriatelynintroduced and annotated,nwould have been a valuable scholarlyncontribution.nUnfortunately, while it remains valuable,nthe value is compromised bynthe author’s statement that he cut out anthird of the original material. Whilenhe describes in several pages himselfngoing about constructing the “publishedndiary” out of the original, hisn