DRAMATIC PERSONAGES by

DRAMATIC PERSONAGES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

These ""spiritual exercises"" of de Rougement on literary, philosophical and religious figures arrives here in translation almost 25 years late, but not too late. The work, composed about the same time as his famous Love in the Western World, is related both to it and to his most recent publication Love Declared- that is to say it is another illuminating inquiry into the dialectic of the person, what de Rougement terms the body-soul-mind phenomenon, and an exploration of European culture at the opposite pole from Marx and Freud. De Rougement, very French and very Christian, presents an intellectual austerity enlivened by subjective commitments, evidenced especially in what were once pioneering essays on Kafka, Lawrence of Arabia, Kierkegaard and Gide's journals (particularly interesting in relating the remarks on the last two with later ones in Love Declared). In a sense, the themes are pre-Sartrean existential: the notion of freedom and determinism in Luther and Calvin, the question of authenticity in Gide and Lawrence, the concepts of guilt or ""absurdity"" in Kafka and Kierkegaard. The opening chapters are on Goethe (life-organizing wisdom), the closing ones on German Romanticism (a life-denying irrationality perverting individualism, furthering the fuhrerprinsip). Though, to a degree, period-pieces, suggesting Popular Front urgency, they are on the whole among de Rougement's most engaging efforts, a must for his English-speaking audience.

Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston