Books: Leftfield

THE INTELLECTUAL FOLLIES by Lionel Abel

Norton; 304 pages; $17.95

Lionel Abel, 73, is an essayist and playwright, and the latest veteran of New York City's old literary left to publish his memoirs. Other recent recollections of this once exclusive and fractious fraternity include Irving Howe's A Margin of Hope and William Barrett's The Truants: Adventures Among the Intellectuals. They were, in Critic Harold Rosenberg's memorable phrase, "the herd of independent minds," part of the theory class that dominated political and cultural debate from the '30s through the '50s. Although deaths, dispersions and change...

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