Books: The Dentist's Chair as an Allegory in Life

MANN and Camus: dead. Sartre: silent. Malraux: Minister of Culture. The old mullers and brooders, the old definers of crisis, are heard no more in the European novel. For a long time it seemed that there might be no successors. A surprise candidate has now emerged from the wings, an odd figure with a loser's accent and a bizarre past. His earlier books had astonishing power, using dwarfs and drums and scarecrows to explore the nightmare dominion of Nazi Germany and the guilt that followed. To many readers, particularly in the U.S., all this was fascinating. It also seemed very long...

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