Books: Back to Nightmare

INTENSIVE CARE by Janef Frame. 342 pages. Braziller. $6.95.

To New Zealand's Janet Frame, history is a hereditary malignancy that engulfs the present and dooms the future to madness, loneliness and death. Intensive Care, her eighth novel, continues her preoccupation with the subject. At one point, she even spells history "hiss-tree," linking it uncomfortably with Eden's serpent. "All dreams," she writes, "lead back to the nightmare garden."

This is the theme that runs through the novel, a combination of poetry and narrative that culminates in a vision of a utopia in which ideals have...

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