Books: Freethinker's Dilemma

JEAN BAROIS (365 pp.)—Roger Marfin du Gard—Viking ($3.50).

Jean Barois, atheist, cowers in the runaway carriage. Another vehicle looms ahead; a crash is inevitable. A low cry bursts from his lips: "Hail, Mary, full of grace . . ."

This comico-tragic instant brings to bear, like the point of a knife, the dilemma of 19th Century Jean Barois and the meaning of his story. It is the fulcrum of the cold, sharp "novel of ideas" which won Novelist Roger Martin du Gard his first critical respect when it was published in France in 1913. Martin...

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