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Julius doesn’t know what to make of the demure but so uninhibited Daphne, who within two hours of their first encounter is indicating that his advances are not fast enough and is leading him, willy-nilly (but willing), to her bed. Is she, he wonders, a nymphomaniac, a schizoid, a female satyr? Or is the whole set-up a trap, and will he “father” come rushing in soon with threats of blackmail? Or is he perhaps operating a concealed film camera, for that kind of movie? But all Julius’s suspicions are wrong. Daphne’s father is an idealist, a member of an esoteric sect of Truth Seekers. And Daphne is just a natural girl who, as befits the daughter of al Truth Seeker, goes directly for whatever she wants, unencumbered by false shame or the relative standards of morality; a girl as honest as she is sincere. Or is she? When Julius asks her about her early life, she has no hesitations about telling him all: “. . . a virgin until I was twelve . . .” sold into slavery in Marrakesh when I was sixteen . . . arrested eight times, in jail six times ... have been a member of the Communist party, the Anarcho-Syndicalists, the Falangist party, the Blue Dragon Society . . . smoked hashish for the first time when I was fifteen, heroin at sixteen... had my first abortion when I was fourteen . . . have killed three men | and two women... and I am in love with a nice young man named Julius Schapiro.” Poor Julius: what is he to think? “You are lying,” he hopes. “Truth seekers never lie,” she tells him. “Hashish and heroin.”


“Not much of either. Just for the sensation.” “In jail, too.” “Mostly for political activities.” “How — how many men?” “Oh, I’ve never kept count of that. Only the times I have been pleased, and they haven’t been too many.” “The man who owned you—” “Oh, pooh! That foolish old man. He owned ten women. Do you think he ever really had the energy for all of us?” Julius gives up at about this point. Daphne is distressed that he should be so distressed. “Why don’t you go and lie down in my bed?” she suggests; “I'll join you later and comfort you.” “No, no,’’ Julius cries; “How could I add to your degradation?” “What degradation?” she asks, her candid blue eyes puzzled. (To the pure. . . .) But Evelyn, his colleague on the play producer’s staff, is not so impressed by Daphne’s story, when he confides unhappily in her. “All women are liars’’, she tells him. And, anyway, “they stay sane through much more than men can. Rapists are insane, and the men who cherish raped women go out of their minds with shame. Raped women don’t lose much sleep. Why? Because God made man in a neurotic moment and woman in a practical afterthought”. 

Evelyn is indeed the embodiment of practical, clear-sighted commonsense. She is the one wide-awake person among all the sleepwalkers (as she calls them). Julius, with his romantic dreams and his persisting ambition, after five fruitless years, to write “pop” songs is a sleepwalker to her. So is her boss, Pollock, who runs his business on his wife’s money, is always full of big talk and big plans but never produces a play, who talks of the theatre as a vocation (“like a church”) and doesn’t ever glimpse himself as the phoney he is. And so, of course, are the Truth Seekers, no two of whom can ever agree as to the direction in which truth may be found.

And so, again, is Julius’s ravenously possessive mother, who Is a gorgeous parody of all those possessive Jewish mothers of so many novels of Jewish life. The first evening that Julius hints to her that he has an “appointment” she is in full cry: who’s the girl, what’s her name, what’s her father . . . Leydecker? “A garbage man he’s got to be. Or at least a janitor. Names like Leydecker you always saw over the janitor’s mailbox. And a lousy janitor at that. Leydecker, I know you. I know you from a hundred apartments from the Bronx and Brooklyn”. “He’s a Truth Seeker”, Julius adds. “He’s not a citizen?’’ “No, no, I mean he belongs to an organization that’s looking for truth.” “Ah, hah! I’m writing to the F.B.I. tonight. Communists they’ve got to be, at the very least. They should get nice long sentences. Dear God, give them a mean judge. And let them go to dirty jails. Where they have to wear an iron ball on their legs. . . . A fine family you want to marry into, my son. Jailbirds. Jew-haters, radicals. Janitors. Julius, where is the writing paper and the ink?”

Her letter (“Dear J. Edgar Hoover”) is what causes the havoc. . . .

Enter, Sleeping by David Karp

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