Books: Flesh & The Devil

_ THE DESERT OF LOVE (214 pp.)

Francois Mauriac—Pellegrini & 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...

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