Books: Doomed Summer

THE BURNING GLASS by S.N. Behrman. 396 pages. Little, Brown. $6.95.

In this era of shock theater, it is hard to realize that there were mellow days of social comedy, when moral and political dilemmas were discussed in the drawing room with reason and wit. In the '30s, Samuel Nathaniel Behrman was the master of the form (Rain from Heaven, No Time for Comedy). Now 75, he has applied the formula to his first novel, and it is as well-turned and entertaining as his best plays.

This time Behrman's vision of man's folly is acted out...