his expense, but Burgess will be able tonproduce entertaining books almost atnwill simply by shuttling this flatulentnfigure about the globe and allowingnhim to say what he sees. Not thengrandest of ambitions, but Burgess isnconserving his ambition for othernbooks.nIf Burgess treats his literary typesnwith something less than full Christiannsympathy, William Golding, in ThenPaper Men, is positively savage. This isna curious quality to remark, sincenGolding’s narrative line, for about halfnthe length of the novel, is gentler andnmore humorous than Burgess’s. Fornquite a while, in fact. The Paper Men isnreminiscent of such Henry James storiesnas “The Lesson of the Master” andn”The Figure in the Carpet.”nWilfred Barclay is an English literarynlion stalked by an American academic,nRick Tucker, who proposes tonwrite the Official Biography of Barclaynand needs only Barclay’s signature onna contract. Tucker is armed with grantsnfrom American institutions and withnthe financial support of a mysteriousnphilanthropist named Halliday. AndnTucker is determined. Look here, henW/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnhas even offered up his wife Mary Lounas bait.nBut he has mistaken the nature ofnhis prey. Overwhelming literary successnhas destroyed Barclay. He is stillnlecherous at 60 years of age, but recognizesnhis broken capacities. His marriagenhas failed, and one reason for itsnfailure was a hilariously improper revelationnmade by Tucker. Barclay isnalcoholic and has begun to slide intonhallucinatory states. Although heneludes Tucker and flees literally roundnthe world, he seems to see the scholarneverywhere, a pursuer inescapable.nNow a story like The Paper Men,none which begins plausiblynenough and then shades into hystericnexaggeration, offers ripe opportunitynfor humor, and there is plenty of harshnsatire in the book. But Golding hasnchosen to force his readers’ credulities,nto take his characters seriously both asnpersons and as allegoric figures, tonpush his plot into madness and violence,nto try to deepen his implications.nThe author’s ambitions may well benmore than such a slight narrative cannIn the forthcoming issue of Chronicles of Culture:nValues for Moneyn1 he great national debates are not really on foreignnpolicy—that is only what interests the media. Most peoplenare deeply into themselves. Far more of them arenintimately concerned about jogging and weight loss thannwith the opposing kinds of regimes in Nicaragua and ElnSalvador. The books that sell and the programs that arenlistened to have not much to do with capitalism versusncommunism: they are about personal experience in capitalnletters, raised to a kind of religion. This being thencase, sometime or other we will have to make sense outnof our ideas and tastes and styles. The whole realm ofnculture, once safely the province of universities and othernharmless places, has suddenly become the realm of thenpassionate majority.”n—from “The New Problems of Paying for Art”nbv Ronald HermannOpinions & Views—Perspective—CommendablesnWaste of Money—In Focus—RevisionsnVital Signs—Liberal Arts—TypefacesnCultural Revolutions—A Prudent Progressivennnconvincingly convey. The plot of ThenPaper Men is the stuff of farce; Barclaynand Tucker are such unequaled fools,nsuch spiteful caricatures, that largernimplication simply will not cling tonthem; they shed profundity the way anNobel laureate sheds unfavorable reviews.nBarclay’s wild mental statesn—drunken hallucination and amnesian—seem only an easy method of forcingnurgency and tension upon a storynthat is not so much in need of thesenqualities as of calmness, leisure, andnforbearance.nCalmer qualities of narrative wouldnallow readers to gain some affection fornBarclay and Tucker; and that would benthe last thing Golding would desire.nBurgess and Golding share a need tonshape their literary figures as shallowlynand distastefully as possible.nWhy is it so common a practice innfiction to portray writers as singularlynunattractive figures? D. H. Lawrence,nAldous Huxley, Sir Walter Scott,nThomas Mann, Dickens—the list is anlong one indeed of authors who denigratentheir own fictional writers. Onenis hard put to name authors who treatnthem benevolently. (Trollope, perhaps,nand Balzac.)nIn the books at hand there is annettlesome pudency about the vocationnof writing, perhaps because thenbooks are concerned with literary figures.nIf one thought—with deliberatennaivete, as Wilfred Barclay does—thatnwriting was at one remove from reality,nthen writing about writers would benat a second or even a third removensince writers would have to be flimsy,nunreal creatures, “paper men.”nThis is nonsense, of course. A writernis as real a person as a tax auditor or anbeautician. He has as many characternfaults as they, and it is unlikely that henhas more. Yet fiction writers are necessarilynmoralists, and it is the curse ofnthe moralist that he must begin bynlooking at himself in that cold light innwhich no one looks good. But tonexpress so much raw self-disgust marksna failure of nerve; the stringent dispassionnhas been lost. If Enderby andnBarclay were cobblers or pickpockets,nBurgess and Golding would be muchnmore forgiving toward them. Suchnobduracy as is shown here results in annodd mawkishness, and The Paper Menn—for all its edgy skill—is at last anself-pitying book. ccn