A very tonic and telling study, suave yet searching, which manages- God knows how- to pump new blood into or out of Joyce, Gide and Mann, three modern masters bled dry by unceasing critical comment. Inspired by Santayana, Professor Brennan turns Joyce around to fit the dialectical symbolism of Dante, Gide to resemble the naturalistic hedonism of Lucretius and Mann the metaphysical mountain-making of Goethe. Since the metamorphoses are suggestive rather than schematic, a lot of intellectual fluidity and flashy insights come through. Primarily they're considered philosophers-in-fiction, propagators of a novelistic Weltanschaung; being the last of the great old guard to see or seek man in his cultural cosmos, they could create heroes at war with the world, unlike the later heroes, from Proust to Robbe-Grillet, so stuck in phenomenological padded cells. The shrewdest and most slippery was Gide; his is also the most entertaining exegesis here. The professor's understanding of Joyce and Mann is graver; still he can stunningly sum-up: Joyce so emotionally circumscribed, willingly or not, by his renegade Catholicism, lacked the ""confidence that a key to the enigma exists, that each tear counts, each drop of blood"", or ""Every major Mann performance is a high tale of how Will gets the better of Idea"". A palpable pleasure.