by Nathalie Sarraute.Braziller, $7.95. There is a real danger that Ms. Sarraute, in her determination to strip her fiction of superfluous gear, wall eventually jettison compass and tiller. This novel appears to be the history of a scholar and intellectual whose assured manner conceals immense inner timidity. On the other hand, it may be about something else entirely. The subtle implications and overtones of Ms. Sarraute’s French have actually driven the translator, Maria Jolas, into footnotes.