The Bridge of Years, by May Sarton (Norton, $4.95). May Sarton, in this early novel, tells the story of a Belgian family during the years from 1919 through the German invasion in 1940. It is the mother M,elanie who sustains the group -- her husband and three daughters -- with her strength and common sense, as their lives proceed inexorably toward that great cataclysm, World War II. Sarton creates the novel's domestic European world with infinite care and sensitivity.

Whistle, by James Jones (Dell Laurel, $5.95). Dell Laurel has been reissuing James Jones' novels in handsome uniform paperback editions. Whistle is the last of Jones' novels. It was intended to be the conclusion of a trilogy of which the author's two best books, From Here to Eternity and The Thin Red Line, are the other parts, but it falls far short of what he accomplished in them. As they do, it deals with ordinary combat soldiers of World War II, and depicts them with deep sympathy and understanding. But its tale of four returning veterans and their troubles re-entering American life, is told in some of the clumsiest prose Jones ever wrote. It is a pity that his career ended on such a disappointing note.

Soldier's Pay and Mosquitoes, by William Faulkner (Washington Square Press, $4.95). Soldiers Pay and Mosquitoes are William Faulkner's first and second novels, respectively. They are obviously the work of an apprentice writer and their principal interest is as curiosities. Soldier's Pay is Faulkner's effort to write a novel about World War I, a conflict with which he had considerably less intimate acquaintance than he liked to let on; its story of a Southern veteran coming home is told in a straightforward prose that contains only hints of the dense style that was to come, and its irony is distinctly heavyhanded. The same is true of Mosquitoes, the story of a band of New Orleans bohemians; this is Faulkner's self-conscious attempt at a literary novel, and just about everything in it seems stiff and artificial. Though these books are primarily of interest to Faulkner specialists, it's good to have them generally available once again.

An Instant in the Wind, by Andr,e Brink (Penguin, $6.95). Andr,e Brink has gained a reputation in this country and in his native South Africa as a novelist unafraid to tackle the controversial subjects of mixed- race love affairs and marraiges, of the injustices of apartheid, of racism in all its myriad forms. He has been both honored and reviled in his homeland, winning South Africa's premier literary awards yet seeing his books banned by the government. An Instant in the Wind, which Brink wrote a decade ago, is a historical novel, although many of its themes continue to be played out in today's South Africa. The story is of an ill-fated Swedish expedition into central South Africa in 1749, of the sole survivor, a white woman named Elisabeth Larsson, and the black slave who had been secretly following the wagons. He is ultimately responsible for saving the woman's life, and the relationship which grows up between the two is the poignant center of the novel. NONFICTION

Kandinsky in Munich: The Formative Jugendstil Years, by Peg Weiss (Princeton University Press, $22). When Kandinsky arrived in Munich from Moscow, in 1896, Munich was a center of European artistic foment, innovation and excitement. It was estimated that at the turn of the century 20,000 artists, writers and musicians lived in the city, all contributing to the expansive flowering of salons, galleries, cafes and theaters. Kandinsky was probably one of the more radical among the artistic community, and even in that heady atmosphere he managed to shock by his insistence on painting pictures without objects. This beautifully assembled and intelligent book examines Kandinsky's years in Munich, the influences of that city on him and he on it.

Technological Utopianism in American Culture, by Howard P. Segal (Chicago, $14.95). Few countries have had a more enduring love affair with the machine than the United States and it's no wonder that some of America's most imaginative thinkers have seen technology as the way to the Perfect Society. Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward is the most famous example, but others such as King Camp Gillette and Charles Wooldridge had their own plans for a world where the machines did the dirty work. Many of their visions of the future have been so outstripped by real world developments that they seem quaint now and, as Segal notes, "many (real world developments) have made the lives of Americans less burdensome and more comfortable, but they have not made people's lives qualitatively happier." Even so, Segal sees techno-utopian writing as an effective vehicle for social criticism, and argues his case for it with authority.

The Movie Lover's Guide to Hollywood, by Richard Alleman (Harper Colophon, $12.95). The ultimate guide to the magic and the kitch of the fabled city of the silver screen -- which of course includes Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. The entries cover such points of interest as the historic studios, night clubs and restaurants, stars' homes, grave sites, classic film locations, and hotels and apartments. Who would have thought that outside Venice High School is an Art Deco statue of Myrna Loy? Or that there is a huge mosaic of John Trumbull's painting, "The Signing of the Declaration of Independence," in Forest Lawn Cemetery near the burial plots of Errol Flynn and baseball manager Casey Stengel.

Scotland Forever Home, by Geddes MacGregor (Dodd, Mead, $11.95). Hardly anyone with a drop of Scottish blood (or for that matter anyone who has ever heard the pipes and drums of a Highland regiment play Scotland the Brave) ever tires of reading about Scotland. This graceful, informative book attempts to explain modern Scotland to what the author calls the "Scots of the Diaspora." MacGregor explains his homeland's "peculiar ambience" in terms of its paradoxes: "Scotland is known for its Puritan outlook, yet no less for its drinking and wenching. Its symbols encompass obstinate John Knox and romantic Brigadoon, Scott in his Abbotsford grandeur and Burns at the plow, magnificent victories in war and almost genocidal defeats."

An Aboriginal Mother Tells of the Old and the New, by Labumore: Elsie Roughsey, edited by Paul Memmott and Robyn Horsman (Penguin, $7.95). Elsie Roughsey is a member of the Lardil tribe and grew up on Mornington Island in the Gulf of Carpentaria on the North Australia coast. Her fascinating autobiography (she is now 62) has been skillfully edited from oral accounts by Roughsey. The language is often awkward as the editors have preserved Roughsey's speech patterns in English. But those infelicities underscore the powerful theme of the book -- the clash of cultures between the aboriginal Lardil tribespeople, who Roughsey remembers as perpetually carefree, and the constraints of Western civilization which arrived on Mornington island with missionaries and changed the lives of the natives forever.

Ethnic Dilemmas, 1964-1982, by Nathan Glazer (Harvard, $8.95). The passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, with the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Immigration Act of 1965, was intended to end racial and ethnic discrimination in America. By 1982, however, the successes and failures of these laws co-existed with an entirely new situation, one in which large numbers of Hispanic and Asian immigrants were changing the racial and ethnic composition of the country. While many of these newcomers rapidly assimilated into American society, others demanded government support for bilingualism and biculturism. The author, who is professor of education and sociology at Harvard, opposes such demands, arguing that public policy should promote a unified even though ethnically and racially diverse society. "When every group insists it must match every other group in economic resources, occupational status, and political representation, and that public power be used to attain these ends . . . we have a sure recipe for conflict." POETRY

Six Centuries of Verse, selected and introduced by Anthony Thwaite (Thames/Methuen, $9.95). This handsomely illustrated book was written to accompany a British TV series narrated by Sir John Gielgud. Unlike many, perhaps most, prose commentaries, Thwaite's text never gets in the way of the verse and yet manages to show how poetry in English has developed over time. Its true glory, however, is Thwaite's selections. He is particularly good on the English Romantics and on Philip Larkin and makes a brave stab at Americans like Dickinson and Whitman. All the selections are accessible without being chosen merely for their popularity, and some of the connections are fun: from Shakespeare's "The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,/ Burn'd on the water" to Eliot's "The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,/ Glowed on the marble . . ."