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THE JEALOUS EAR by ROBERT EARLY 207 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $5.95.

Perhaps it has something to do with that old Southern blend of agrarian ide alism and the-18th century romance with the noble savage. Or maybe it is just all that ambling through the tall grass. In any case, Southern writers have had a particular weakness for seeing beauty and naked truth through the eye of the innocent. Robert Early, 34, a North Carolinian and former Benedic tine monk, uses the other senses as well.

The Jealous Ear, his first novel, is about a boy's attempt...

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