A notable work of criticism, but one distinguished more for its pioneering trek over virgin territory (the new genre of nonrealistic fiction, the bizarre romance or comedy), than for the author's style (Professor Scholes is one of those scholars who want to get ""with it,"" thus often sounding, especially in the early stretches, both bouncy and pedantic). The representative figures chosen can be a bit odd: Golding and Burgess surely come closer to the allegorical drive or verbal inventiveness of modern fabulation than de Murdoch's basically neo-Gothic mode or Durrell's Proustian psychology, and Scholes' chapters on these writers do little to alter that opinion. Scholes is much nearer to the mark delineating the bright, pleasantly vengeful satires of Vonnegut and Southern, though with the first he lapses into pompous nonsense (""What man must learn is neither scorn nor resignation, say the Black Humorists, but how to take a joke""), and with the second too much is read into ""Southern's inferno."" The best sections are the splendid discussions of John Hawkes' The Lime Twig (its subtle, shifting use of the sadistic and the dreamy relationship between character and action) and John Barth's Giles Goat-Boy. With Barth, Scholes ties all his theoretical loose ends together in an epic essay on Barth's ""epic vision,"" archetypes, and language. A stunning explication indeed.