The Dean's Decemberby Saul Bellow
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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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.