_ THE DESERT OF LOVE (214 pp.)
Francois MauriacPellegrini & Cudahy ($3)
For the novelist of religious mind, sin is a pervasive subject. But François Mauriac, a Roman Catholic and one of the most gifted of living French novelists, was pulled up short 23 years ago by the challenge of a friend and fellow Catholic: Was Mauriac's fascination with sin a shade too rapt for piety? Advised Thomist Jacques Maritain: let Mauriac examine his soul to see whether it was pure enough to portray evil "without conniving with it."
Pained, Mauriac wrote an essay in...