Books: French Nightmare

THE JOKER (319 pp.)—Jean Malaquais —Doubleday ($3.95).

A century ago, when the historical optimists still believed in eternal progress, the earthly future looked like bright heaven. Today, for a whole school of literary pessimists, it looks like unshaded hell. The harbingers of doom, headed by Aldous Huxley (Brave New World) and George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), have now been joined by Frenchman Jean Malaquais. His world of the future is as grim a nightmare as theirs. But the hero of Malaquais' The Joker is not one to surrender to a nightmare. What makes him different from most of his fictional counterparts is his...

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