Books: Defeat of an Individualist

THE CENTURY WAS YOUNG—Louis Aragon—Duell, Sloan & Pearce($2.75).

This long, bitter, muscular novel, by the bitter author of The Bells of Basel and Residential Quarter, Louis Aragon—onetime Dadaist ringleader, left-wing journalist, soldier of World Wars I and II—begins in a false brightness: In 1889 a tremulous dream of hope hung over the world, a miracle world of science, progress, peace. Of course there was always a spatter of gunfire somewhere far off, faint rumbles and stenches from below. But people hoped that all the remaining corruption and debris would be swept away in...

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