Books: A French Cameo

COUNT D'ORGEL (214 pp.)—Raymond Kadiguet—Grove Press ($3).

Raymond Radiguet, whose masterpiece, Count d'Orgel, is published this week in the U.S., was a literary prodigy. He was born near Paris in 1903, one of a large tribe of children sired by a cartoonist for the Paris comic magazine Le Rire. Of his mother Radiguet once said: "I don't know very well what her face looked like. She was always tying shoelaces."

Raymond spent the summer of his twelfth year in a boat on the Marne, reading his father's library of modern French authors, and decided to become a writer. At 14, he was producing...