Books: Assimilation Blues

WORLD OF OUR FATHERS by IRVING HOWE 714 pages. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. $14.95.

Irving Howe is one of those writers for whom the designation "a gentleman and a scholar" was minted. Professor of English at New York's Hunter College, literary critic and editor of the democratic-socialist magazine Dissent, Howe belongs to an intellectual tradition in which literature and politics, aesthetics and morals are not mutually exclusive.

He is one of the few writers who can still use phrases like "the life of the mind" and "the sanctity of thought" without causing the...

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