Biographical fiction -- with the strange story of Richard Savage, bastard, playwright, novelist, versifier, satirist, as the springboard for an intimate picture of London from 1714 to 1743. It was the London of Alexander Pope and Sir Richard Steele and Colley Cibber -- and Savage ran the gamut from obscurity to notoriety, from poverty to affluence, and back again, in his mad determination to establish his birth, and, failing that, to revenge himself upon all who had been in any way concerned with his failure. Richly colored and crowded canvas of the period, and for anyone interested in those days, it is a gold mine of fact and fancy. Not a book for light reading -- nor for the reader seeking sheer entertainment. But certainly keyed to the interest of the ""literary crowd"" -- snob appeal, etc. The publishers are backing it for big sales. We rather doubt its reaching as wide a market as they prophesy -- but it is an important book. Watch it.