Books: Parabola of Despair

ARCH OF TRIUMPH—Erich Mono Remarque—Appleton-Cenfury ($3).

"The mass of men," wrote Thoreau from the fir-scented tranquillity of Walden Pond, "lead lives of quiet desperation." In periods of accelerated history, the organic rot of Rome, the collapse of the Middle Ages, the gigantic life & death struggles of 20th-century civilization, this desperation takes on a new intensity. Its symbol in our time is the emigre, the political fugitive.

First came the White Russians, who as taxi drivers, doormen or waiters could not forget that they had once been gentlefolk. Next came the people who had laughed loudest at the White Russians, the fugitives from...

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