RALPH H. BLUM, 77, a cultural anthropologist and author, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University with a degree in Russian Studies. His reporting from the Soviet Union, the first of its kind for The NewYorker (1961—1965), included two three-part series on Russian cultural life. He has written for various magazines, among them Reader’s Digest, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue. Blumhas published three novels and five nonfiction books on the oracular tradition, beginning with The Book of Runes. He has been living with prostate cancer, without radical intervention, for twenty years.