Books: Elegant Hell

KALKI by Gore Vidal

Random House; 254 pages; $10

The Bhagavad-Gita reckons a day in the life of the creator god Brahma as roughly 311 trillion, 40 million years. This twitch in the flank of eternity is divided into a thousand cycles of four ages. The first is golden with virtue, wisdom and religion. Vice is introduced in the second age and the universe goes downhill thereafter. We are, according to the ancient Vedic text, some 5,000, years into Kaliyuga, the final, corrupt age. This cycle should all be over in about 427,000 years.

Gore Vidal cannot wait. His latest novel is an...

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