What "The White Hotel" sets out to perform, clearly, is the diagnosis of our epoch through the experience of an individual; and the highest praise I can give it is that for some time it comes close to achieving that goal. Indeed, the opening sections of the novel are so authoritative and imaginatively daring that I quickly came to feel I had found the book, that mythical book, that would explain us to ourselves. The letters among the analysts (Ferenczi, Sachs, Freud), for instance, are themselves quite fine: playful and somber, full of information and suffused with a sense of high, shared purpose.
But it is in the first of Lisa's compositions that Mr. Thomas comes closest to realizing his high...
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