FRANCE: The Devil in the Book

In the early 1920s a slim, sensitive novel of egotistic passion called Le Diable au Corps electrified French literary circles. Hailed as a minor masterpiece, the book was translated into nine languages, sold close to 3,000,000 copies, and earned for its precocious author, 20-year-old Raymond Radiguet, a secure place in French literature. Like many another convincingly told work of fiction, Radiguet's novel set many readers wondering how much of fiction was really fact. Nowhere did such speculation reach greater heights than in the Marne River town of Saint-Maur, where Radiguet had lived as a boy.

In his book, young Radiguet...

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