Books: Beyond Pleasure and Pain

THE WHITE HOTEL by D.M. Thomas; Viking; 274pages; $12.95

Blame literary fashion or the Zeitgeist, but novels seem to be growing ever less capacious. Those that find room for historical sweep or the intricacies of public affairs can usually squeeze in only pasteboard heroes and heroines. The ones that concentrate on fine-tuned psyches or dark nights of the soul generally admit the outside world as nothing more than a nuisance or irrelevant noise. Fewer and fewer new novels attempt to bridge this gap, to extend complex characters beyond the tight little domain of solipsism....

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