A part of Julian Green is like the fastidious emptiness of the hero in James' The Beast in the Jungle. In other ways he resembles the tormented God seekers of Mauriac, with Proustian overtones. His most famous psychological studies, the novel Me ira and the play South, present an embattled landscape where flesh and the spirit engage in mortal combat. The Catholic aspect is predominant throughout all his work, and that may explain the persistent presence of sin, as well as the veiled, penitential form it takes. Green is largely a confessional writer who never quite tells all: his Diary 1928-1957 annoyed Gide, his friend, because its subtle ruminations never came to grips with the diarist's sexual obsession. To Leave Before Dawn, published in France in 1963, is a sort of prelude to the diary, though it was of course composed later. Delineating Green's youth, this memoir records his unusual upbringing and schooling in France, where his American parents settled and where, with the exception of his years at the University of Virginia, Green has always lived. It is often a charming reconstruction of Paris during the first decades of the twentieth century, but its real achievement is the dramatic interweaving of family piety and adolescent terrors, the criss-crossing of the sacred and profane which would forever haunt Green's life and fiction, and the superb portrait of his mother. One of the best of Green's works.