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The Dean's December (Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin) Paperback – May 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Classic, 20th-Century, Penguin
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Reprint edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140189130
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140189131
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,427,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Saul Bellow's dazzling career has been marked with numerous literary prizes, including the 1976 Nobel Prize, and the Gold Medal for the Novel. His work includes Herzog, More Die of Heartbreak, Mosby's Memoirs and Other Stories, Mr Sammler's Planet, Seize The Day and the essay To Jerusalem and Back. He died in 2005. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Saul Bellow won the Pulitzer Prize for his novel HUMBOLDT'S GIFT in 1975, and in 1976 was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature 'for the human understanding and subtle analysis of contemporary culture that are combined in his work.' He is the only novelist to receive three National Book Awards, for THE ADVENTURES OF AUGIE MARCH, HERZOG, and MR. SAMMLER'S PLANET

Customer Reviews

The novel is a slow thought-provoking read, written in dense and intelligent prose.
Aleksandra Nita-Lazar
To be fair, however, I must warn you that the 2 respected readers I know, who read this one cover to cover, were almost viscerally angry afterwards for having done so.
Billyjack D'Urberville
Bloom became famous and wealthy following his book "The Closing of the American Mind", about American values and the role of Higher Education.
J. Robinson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Peter Renshaw on August 6, 1998
Format: Paperback
Having only recently begun reading Bellow I have found him to be an admirable guide to the way contemporary man thinks about the world and particularly human relationships. Although the characters sometimes seem a little too involved in philosophical wool-gathering to be true, their ruminations provide critical insights into the way our society is constructed. In The Dean's December, the contrasts are between the decaying society of late communist Rumania and the problems of society in contemporary Chicago. The Dean is in Rumania to be with his dying mother-in-law, a formerly powerful party official who has been ostracised for allowing her daughter,an internationally famous astronomer, to emigrate to the west.. The Dean, who is a respected journalist has ruffled powerful feathers in Chicago with a series of pointed articles critical of certain aspects of Chicago society and has also been involved in seeking justice in a case where one of ! his students has been murdered. In this he is opposed by his radical nephew who thinks that the case is racist because the accused are African Americans of deprived social origins. Bellow is a master of setting the scene - the bleak December weather echoes the coldness of communist and capitalist society, the cheerless bureaucracies and intricate politics of both settings. As well as societies problems, the Dean must also confront his own mortality as he watches his beloved mother-in-law die and the reactions of his wife and slightly eccentric relatives to this stress. This is a book which will repay several readings. Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Billyjack D'Urberville on October 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
The downside of being pugnacious and feisty is that people stop taking you seriously next time you jump into a scrap. This seems to be what happened to this undeservedly neglected book by a great and feisty American writer.

Known for bringing artistic beauty, dimensionality, and a golden aura of wisdom to his tough Chicago turf, Bellow here took the gloves off. His University of Chicago Dean hero struggles with injustice and cynicism at its rawest, when he becomes engaged with the cavalier Chicago criminal justice system and its disgustingly casual response to the murder of a student. Counterpoint is meaningfully provided by the death of an old relative behind the iron curtain, whom the Dean visits. As in Lear, the subplot is no relief at all, merely stokes the flames of the main plot and brings Bellow's fury with the modern world to a white heat. Thus we are denied mere sociological or political excuses for our modern mayhem; the focus is what has gone wrong with our hearts the world over. Never has Bellow been more engaged or convincing. Indeed Bellow sacrifices something of his usual high gloss artistic finish to this product in the process, perhaps intentionally and savagely.

Yeah, he wants to stick it in your face and it shows. This is doubtless what offends some readers. Nevertheless it is a worthy response to having just received the Nobel Prize. Most writers, American and otherwise, react by self-inflating to sanctimoniously gracious gas bags. Saul knew who he was, however, and never let anyone fool him on that score.

I cannot recommend the real life portraiture and painting that shines through this text highly enough. It is entirely genuine, real, perfect, matchlessly true. I frankly know of no better Chicago novel.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Gordon Hilgers on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Of course, there's no telling what the reception of a Nobel Prize can actually do to how a prizewinner relates to his work or material. Does he simply keep up the good work and satisfy himself with more of the same? Or does he feel compelled to stretch out a little, tackle tougher terrain, become a world spokesman, a kind of Bob Geldof of the academic world? Or does he simply pull up the stakes altogether and move to, say, Parnassus? While critics have expressed mild dissatisfaction with the post facto work of one of those Nobel winners, Saul Bellow, mainly because what some believe to be an unecessary discursiveness has crept into his later novels, Bellow's previous work is often so tongue-in-cheek and humorously numinous that it is easy to dismiss the dismissers as perhaps having read "The Dean's December" too superficially. Bellow's first novel after the Nobel watermark, in many ways, then, seems to betray the author's early attempts to keep up with the reputation he has gained: Big subjects, high blown philosophy, windy passages. But what else would you expect from Bellow, a man who hails from Chicago, the Windy City?
It's bleak and apocalyptic in the Romania where Albert Corde, a prominent Chicago university dean begins his story. The depths of an East European winter made even colder by the moribund Communist dictatorship whose presence is felt everywhere seems nearly as leaden as the sallow plum brandy he sips as if it were contraband in the decaying parlor of his wife's ailing mother, Valeria.
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