by Phoebe Adams
by McGraw-Hill, $10.00. ‟Being,” according to the subtitle, ‟the diary of Restif de la Breton,” and indeed much of the text is lifted or paraphased from the works of that sentimental pornographer. In spite of the borrowings, the book must be considered a novel—a strange novel, in which the author’s purpose is not to devise his own world and people it with invented characters, but to recreate the actual world of Paris between 1789 and 1794 as it would have looked to a man who lived in it and who was, besides, a distinctly peculiar fellow. Restif’s oddities, which make him a quirkily fascinating reporter, also allow Mr. Karmel to draw attention to resemblances between social conditions during the French Revolution and those of our own time. These resemblances are the real point of the book, which becomes, as haphazard reform develops into the Terror, quite frightening. It is also amusing on occasion. Who can help grinning over the realization that the twentieth-century short skirt has converted many a potential foot fetishist into an ordinary, harmless leg man?.