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The Dean's December

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Overview

Albert Corde, dean of a Chicago college, is unprepared for the violent response to his expose of city corruption. Accused of betraying his city, as well as being a racist, he journeys to Bucharest, where his mother-in-law lies dying, only to find corruption rife in the Communist capital. Switching back and forth between the two cities, The Dean's December represents Bellow's "most spirited resistance to the forces of our time" (Malcolm Bradbury).
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Overview

Albert Corde, dean of a Chicago college, is unprepared for the violent response to his expose of city corruption. Accused of betraying his city, as well as being a racist, he journeys to Bucharest, where his mother-in-law lies dying, only to find corruption rife in the Communist capital. Switching back and forth between the two cities, The Dean's December represents Bellow's "most spirited resistance to the forces of our time" (Malcolm Bradbury).
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Editorial Reviews

Robert Tower
''The Dean's December'' is heavily thematic - and talky. But the themes are fully grounded in the book's matrix of idea and event and language. And the talk is excellent. Despite my distrust of didacticism and my yearnings for a stronger line of action, I found the novel continuously interesting in its play of ideas (even when cranky) and moving in its fervor. And Bellow's style - the play of language, the ''spin'' that he puts upon words - has never been more arresting. -- New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140189131
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/28/1998
  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 7.84 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

Saul Bellow
Saul Bellow
A literary giant, Saul Bellow loomed large over writers attempting the Great American Novel, since many would argue that he has already achieved this feat at least once over. He was considered a foremost chronicler of the Jewish-American post-war experience, but the "human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work" are what won him the Nobel, and helped him transcend cultural and national borders.

Biography

Praised for his vision, his ear for detail, his humor, and the masterful artistry of his prose, Saul Bellow was born of Russian Jewish parents in Lachine, Quebec in 1915, and was raised in Chicago. He received his Bachelor's degree from Northwestern University in 1937, with honors in sociology and anthropology, and did graduate work at the University of Wisconsin. During the Second World War he served in the Merchant Marines.

His first two novels, Dangling Man (1944) and The Victim (1947) are penetrating, Kafka-like psychological studies. In 1948 he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and spent two years in Paris and traveling in Europe, where he began his picaresque novel The Adventures of Augie March, which went on to win the National Book Award for fiction in 1954. His later books of fiction include Seize the Day (1956); Henderson the Rain King (1959); Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories (1968); Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970); Humboldt's Gift (1975), which won the Pulitzer Prize; The Dean's December (1982); More Die of Heartbreak (1987);Theft (1988); The Bellarosa Connection (1989); The Actual (1996); and, most recently, Ravelstein (2000). Bellow has also produced a prolific amount of non-fiction, collected in To Jerusalem and Back, a personal and literary record of his sojourn in Israel during several months in 1975, and It All Adds Up, a collection of memoirs and essays.

Bellow's many awards included the International Literary Prize for Herzog, for which he became the first American to receive the prize; the Croix de Chevalier des Arts et Lettres, the highest literary distinction awarded by France to non-citizens; the B'nai B'rith Jewish Heritage Award for "excellence in Jewish Literature"; and America's Democratic Legacy Award of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the first time this award has been made to a literary personage. In 1976 Bellow was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature "for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work."

Bellow passed away on April 5, 2005 at the age of 89.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Solomon Bellow (real name)
      Saul Bellow
    1. Date of Birth:
      June 10, 1915
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lachine, Quebec, Canada
    1. Date of Death:
      April 5, 2005
    2. Place of Death:
      Brookline, Massachusetts

Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 3, 2004

    heavy but wonderfully uplifting

    Sure, Bellow is smart, perhaps too smart, if that's possible. But the themes of 'The Dean's December' (a world of commerce seen through the eyes of an intellect and dreamer, Chicago's corruption placed beside Communism, mankind's disregard for one another and for beauty) are profound and in Bellow's hands handled deftly. This was his first book after being awarded the Nobel Prize and this is often seen as Bellow's heavy and serious book. And though I don't recommend it as a first read for initiates, I found the book beautifully written, intelligent and like all of Bellow's work's, original. Also, it was the first book of Bellow's where he showed a true warmth and affection for a female character. Yes, his books are 'talky' but it is the talkiness of Bellow and his characters that makes his work stand above so much else. Amidst this talkiness are jewels of wisdom. His voice is like no other.

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