Books: An Age of Characters

THE AGE OF REASON (433 pp.)—Harold Nicolson—Doubleday ($5.95).

If Louis XIV was the sun king, Louis XV had all he could do to reign. He was lazy, lecherous and indecisive. History has preserved his notoriety in such personal institutions as the Pare aux Cerfs (the deer park), a town house where, actually, he maintained a private brothel, and, as Author Nicolson puts it, "thereby did much damage to his repute, his constitution, and his power of application." However, one of Louis XV's nightly customs reveals far more about the so-called Age of Reason than his deer park.

Bedtime a I'ancien régime was a...

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