Books: A Chip of the Old Balzac

"— & Co."—Jean-Richard Bloch—Simon and Schuster ($3).

Time was when novelists, like sculptors, tried to mould their creations in the round; nowadays most of them are content with line drawings. Author Bloch has achieved what few of his contemporaries even attempt Though his story covers only 18 years (1871-89) in the history of a family, he has so manipulated the elaborations of its detail that it reads not only like the blended histories of individuals but the story of an epoch.

The Simlers of Buschendorf have been the principal citizens of their little Alsatian town for generations. Although they are orthodox Jews and...

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