Books: Still Life

GROUP PORTRAIT WITH LADY by HEINRICH BÖLL

Translated by LEILA VENNEWITZ 405 pages. McGraw-Hill. $7.95.

When Heinrich Böll won the Nobel Prize for Literature last year, there was a general and aggressive nodding of heads. "Couldn't have happened to a more deserving or decent fellow," the nodders agreed. Böll is prolific. He is a senior member of Group 47, the informal association of such writers as Günter Grass and Uwe Johnson, who took it upon themselves in 1947 to articulate the conscience of postwar Germany. Unlike Grass, whose fancy fixes persistently on violence and pain, Böll's characteristic manner is gently satirical.

As a Catholic...

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