Sep 1967 • Vol. XXIX No. 4 Book Reviews |

Modes of Imperception

The Singing Lizard by John Knowler. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $4.95. Snow White by Donald Barthelme. Atheneum Publishers, $4.50. Waldo by Paul Theroux. Houghton Mifflin Company, $3.95. The Attempt by John Hopkins. The Viking Press, $4.50. Mr. Henry James, Santayana has written, overcame the genteel tradition in the classic way--by understanding it. The observation goes to the heart of James's fiction. Perception itself--the act of the mind--remained his central concern, determining the increasing complexities that mark his later style. The verbal precision, the seemingly endless qualification, the tight pattern of images clearly are intended to announce hard-won moral discoveries; yet much like that of his characters, whose perceptions are arrived at through inference and expressed chiefly in significant pauses, the nature of those discoveries often remains oblique. The figure in the carpet can be determined, if at all, only by accepting in place of conventional linear apprehen

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