Books: Bicycle Race

ESCAPE IN PASSION (589 pp.)—Jules Romains (Translafed by Gerard Hopkins)—Knopf ($3.50).

Of the world's great fiction traditions none is hardier than the encyclopedic chronicle of French national life. Honoré de Balzac's La Comedie Humaine was a procession of some 90 stories. Then came Emile Zola's 20-volume series of novels, Les Rougon-Macquart. Now Jules Romains' Men of Good Will, a study of French history and habits between 1908 and 1933, has reached its 13th and penultimate volume.

Escape in Passion, like its predecessors, is a novel with a vast and varied cast. Its 400-odd characters...

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