Books: The Heresy of Innocence

THE HEN'S HOUSE by Peter Israel. 255 pages. Putnam. $4.95.

In the creative imagination, the modern world shrinks more and more often into the confines of a great institution. Writers have spun whole novels out of a single metaphor: a sanatorium (Mann), a concentration camp (E. E. Cummings), a university (Barth). First Novelist Peter Israel has gone a step further. His setting is a windowless labyrinth of long corridors and locked doors; its rules and workings resemble the capriciousness of Kafka's world. Whether it is an asylum or a prison, Israel never makes clear....

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