A yes-and-no approach to the art of Miss Porter. Is she a supreme stylist? Yes. Does she possess a profound (i.e. balanced) view of life? No. Between these two poles the examination of the tales, novellas and Ship of Fools swings on a strong thread of interesting argument, generous insights, and some moral imperatives. The latter are Father Nance's own, by way of Catholic humanism, and one might question the validity in view of Miss Porter's anti-religious bias. As developed here, however, in non-theological terms, they of point up the inescapable: her fictional world is bleak, the themes narrow- evil engulfs existence and oppression of one form or another lurks everywhere. The central, impulse is taken to be the rejection principle, just as Miranda (explioit or implicit throughout the canon) is considered the prototype character, symbolizing various escape-patterns from family, marriage, society, and the recurring disillusionments of the truth-seeker. Thus the lady's irony (a ""feminine"" kind) is the result of the idealist's deprivation: desperate for an ordered world but doomed to the chaotic. Art then becomes ""salvation."" for to love is to destroy and the heroic is to face the darkness in isolated integrity. With Fools even that stance collapses; the proud subjectivism descends to the destruction of all human possibility. While Father Nance's book-length study- the first Miss Porter has received- is intended as a tribute and never ceases to extol her craftsmanship, there's no denying the deepseated ambivalence he found in her work is very much present in his own.