Books: Truth and Consequences

THE DEAN'S DECEMBER; By Saul Bellow; Harper & Row; 312 pages; $13.95

At its richest, Saul Bellow's freestyle prose reads as if a Division Street Dostoyevsky were writing a book called Thus Spake the Nobel Savage. In Mr. Sammler's Planet (1970), the author's tone took a Spenglerian edge as the novel's elderly New Yorker ruminated on the decline of the West Side and, inferentially, civilization as the author knows and reveres it. Sammler had political repercussions. Bellow was accused of being aloof, insensitive and a neoconservative. He has calmly and disdainfully rejected these labels...

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