An impressive collection of short stories by a foremost Swedish writer who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1951, and who is best known in this country for Barabbas which appeared here in that year. These stories, which range from fable and parable to satire and allegory, have for the most part a certain consanguinity; humanity, and its ultimate destiny, is the constant concern and the haunted quest for salvation- or perhaps survival- give them a strong moral intent and an elegiac spiritual belief. His is a world of ""contending opposites"", and ""darkness and light, good and evil, the cosmic and the familiar, life and death, comfort and despair"" all dramatize the paradox of existence. The Eternal Smile is a mystical inquiry- after death- into the meaning of life; the savage The Children's Campaign is a political parallel, and the indictment of totalitarianism continues in The Hangman a powerful projection of ""the rutting time of evil""; Guest of Reality has an autobiographical cast and reflects the disquieting preoccupations of a boyhood; in the Masquerade of Souls there is the transmutation of an earthly love... These, among others, affirm once again the tragic spirit which is Lagerkvist's, the sombre, sepulchral quality of his prose which heightens the intensity of experience here.