version of Private Lives”—at the RoyalnCourt in 1956; and I admit tonentertainment (little more) by subsequentnfringe theater in England, as alsonby some postwar cinema there. Thanksnto a fine dramatic tradition and intelligentnaudiences, Albion has enjoyed anrich mine of theatrical originality owingnto the presence of such playwrightsnas Osborne, Wesker, Pinter, Stoppard,nAlan Bennett, and Michael Frayn, tonsay nothing of the sometimes hilariousnJoe Orton, murdered in 1967 when innhis 30’s (though no Marlowe for allnthat). Yet can we seriously agree withnWatson that, “since the 1960’s thenBritish have had it mostly their ownnway in the theaters of the West”?nBeckett was not British. Nor werenlonesco, Durrenmatt, Genet, Miller,nGiraudoux, Sartre, and a dozen othersnof consequence.nThe penultimate chapter of BritishnLiterature Since 1945 is the best. It isnan excellent generalized essay on feminism,nand to some extent the fictionn”inspired” by feminism, and it is devoidnof the irritating Britain-Is-Bestnchauvinism that robs so much else innthis book of value.nGeoffrey Wagner is author ofnWyndham Lewis: A Portrait of thenArtist As the Enemy, Five fornFreedom: A Study of Feminism innFiction, and The Red Grab, a novel.nMotels and FillingnStationsnby Allan CarlsonnWhat Are People For?nby Wendell BerrynSan Francisco: North Point Press;n210 pp., $9.95nRural and small town America isnnearly dead. A distinctive culturenrooted in family farms, weakening sincen1900 and seriously diseased since 1960,nemerged from the I980’s in a terminalnstate. In Iowa alone, the last ten yearsnsaw a net out-migration of 280,000npeople, a full tenth of the state’s population,nwith most of the loss concentratednin the countryside and in hamlets ofnunder one thousand souls. As a ruralnminister recently told the Wall StreetnJournal, “These towns are bleedingnpeople.” Deaths now outnumbernbirths in many Iowa counties. As anotherncommentator remarked, “Peoplenwho grew up with families and neighborsnsuddenly don’t have either.”nAmidst this accelerating collapse ofnthe agrarian order, the most consistentnvoice of protest and warning has beennthat of Kentucky farmer and poetnWendell Berry. With good reason, hisnmost recent collection of essays. WhatnAre People For?, conveys mainly pessimism,neven despair.nBerry remains a maddening figurenfor ideologues, both right and left.nConservatives have fumed over his lacknof respect for industrial capitalism, andnhis new volume offers no recantations.nAmericans live “by the tithes of history’snmost destructive economy,” hensays. The author labels the economicnideal of competition as false, silly, andn”destructive both of nature and ofnhuman nature.” He despises “agribusiness”nin all its forms. Blasting bothn”industrial food” and “industrial sex,”nBerry concludes that “[o]ur kitchensnand other eating places more and morenresemble filling stations, as our homesnmore and more resemble motels.”nAt the same time, Berry repeatedlynviolates left-liberal sensibilities. Henquestions racial integration schemes,nsuggesting that “the two races arenusefiil and necessary to each othernbecause of their differences.” Berryndoubts the wisdom of more immigrationnfrom Mexico, because a “generousnimmigration policy would be contradictednby our fundamentallynungenerous way of life.” He endorsesnchild labor “in viable household andnlocal economies.” Scandalizing the libertinesnand the universalists, Berrynpraises marital fidelity, the central importancenof family life, and local loyalties.nHe denies the merits of feministnegalitarianism, arguing that “[t]o havenan equal part in our juggernaut ofnnational vandalism is [still] to be anvandal.” He condemns state educationnsystems that “innovate as compulsivelynand as eagerly as factories,” and wantsnno part of schools that “serve thengovernment’s economy and the economy’sngovernment.”nHeir to the agrarian populists. Berryndecries the institutions that have homogenizednAmerican life, batterednnnself-sufficiency, and smothered familynautonomy. “My small community innKentucky,” he reports, “has lived andndwindled for at least a century undernthe influence of four kinds of organizations—ngovernments, corporations,nschools, and churches — all of whichnare distant (either actually or in interest),ncentralized, and consequently abstractnin their concerns.” His key (andnabsolutely correct) point is that “thenold cultural centers of home and communitynwere made vulnerable to thisninvasion by their failure as economies.”nWhen the members of a household ornvillage no longer aid each othernthrough productive endeavors, thennthe individuals involved “fall into dependencenon exterior economies andnorganizations,” and lose their freedom.nIn an insightful discussion of thennovel Huckleberry Finn, Berry hintsnthat American families and communitiesnhave been particularly vulnerablenin this regard. Mark Twain’s real “failure”nwas not the oft-noted turn towardnjuvenile foolishness in the last third ofnthe book, but the inability of the book’snonly “adult” characters—Aunt Pollynand Aunt Sally — to impress their notionnof settled community on Huck.nFor him, the only choice in the endnseemed to be between the dreadedn”pious civilization” of Miss Watsonnand escape into some “territory.” Berrynconcludes: “Huckleberry Finn failsnin failing to imagine a responsible,nadult community life. And I am supposingnfurther that this is the failure ofnMark Twain’s life, and of our life, sonfar, as a society.”nThrough most of his discourses.nBerry sees little prospect for hope.nFarm communities “are declining andneroding,” while “most of the enterprisesnof the old household economy” arengone. He sees “a diminished country,”nmarked by crumbling stone walls, saggingnand fallen barns, and empty houses,nall evidence of “human life poorlynfounded, played out, and gone.” Increasingly,ncountry people live andnthink like city people, and so participatenin their own demise: “Our garbagenmingles with New Jersey garbagenin our local landfill, and it would benhard to tell which is which.” He deniesnthat individual protest is of any publicnuse, eschews politics as corrupt andncorrupting, and dismisses as presumptuousnthe idea that he might be part ofnAUGUST 1991/35n