Winter 1990 • Vol. XII No. 1 Book Reviews |

When Failure Is Not the True Test

The Creole Mephistopheles by Laurence Lieberman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. 135 pages. $19.95. The Southern Reaches by Sherod Santos. Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. 69 pages. $18.50. "Failure is the true test of greatness. . . . Let us believe it, then, once for all, that there is no hope for us in these smooth, pleasing writers that know their powers," Melville wrote in "Hawthorne and His Mosses." He was attempting to encourage and to identify both what is great and what is American in our literature. "Let us believe it." Easier said than done. There are moments when the gargantuan national appetite for ambition and the corresponding easy forgiveness for exuberant failure seem less productive of "hope" than of chronic frustration. After all, knowing one's limits is a sign of maturity, isn't it? Yes, but in our national hierarchy of values, maturity continues to rank well below enthusiasm, and our writers do indeed characteristically emph

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Repairs

By Ron Smith

The Creole Mephistopheles by Laurence Lieberman. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1988. 135 pages. $19.95. The Southern Reaches by Sherod Santos. Middletown, Ct.: Wesleyan University Press, 1989. 69 pages. $18.50. […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.