A work of creative analysis and criticism that challenges one's familiarity and comprehension of writers as seemingly far apart as Shakespeare, Ibsen and Chekhov -- Fielding and Dorothy Richardson -- Scott, Dickens, Thackeray, Trollops, Meredith, Hardy, Henry James -- Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Kaiza. And yet she weaves her bright shuttle back and forth, picking out a thread here, an interpretation there, giving one a sense of continuity and growth, of symbolism and realism, of a common understanding of and rejection of power and its effects. The roots of literature go back centuries; one writer owes to another, who may be unknown, almost certainly unread, influences, conceptions that today's perceptive critic can trace. The nature of man- his relation to authority- doom and salvation -- these are elements in the whole as in the parts. At times Rebecca West is authoritative- at times disruptive. Her book demands from the reader more perhaps of background than most readers can bring to it.