As the orchestra is warming up and the actors are completing their pre-show gargling, there is doubtless time for an introduction. Just as every story needs a preface, a truly erudite narrative simply cannot do without an introduction. The introduction gives some pompous literary windbag the chance to rattle on at length about aspects of the structure and symbolism that no one cares about, least of all himself. Or, as in the present instance, an introduction gives the author a second chance to apologize for the inadequacies of the work, or pay a friend to do so instead. But here we shall end, as it is always ominous if the introductory material is of greater length than the story itself.