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A Roman soldier is haunted by memories of a secret ancestry. An impoverished Russian, a man for whom God is more of a question than an answer, is told a terrible truth about the resettlement of his small provincial village. A couple of prodigious students-abandoned by society-adopt a quest that turns their eyes inward upon a relentless vision of the demonic. A surviving soldier, a disillusioned scholar, two social outcasts; thus the stage is set for a few of the stories that comprise this astonishing anthology, which explores the fear and desire of each generation, as well as the tortured complexity of each of its chief embodiments, whose own feelings are no less mysterious and crushing than the age that helped to inspire it.