Abe Ravelstein was the most famous philosopher to come forth from novelist Saul Bellow’s pen—but he wasn’t the first. Decades before using the University of Chicago’s Allan Bloom as the model for the Plato-quoting title character in Ravelstein (2000), Bellow dreamed up a hard-drinking ex-OSS operative and firebrand political theorist named William Mosby for the 1968 short story “Mosby’s Memoirs.” Mosby “thought much, accomplished much,” and “made some of the most interesting mistakes a man could make in the twentieth century.” He surveyed the field of political philosophy and found it wanting:


As one who had personally tried to create a more rigorous environment for slovenly intellectuals, to force them to do their homework, to harden the categories of political thought, he was aware that on the Right as on the Left the results were barren…. Princeton University had offered Mosby a lump sum to retire seven years early. One hundred and forty thousand dollars. Because his mode of discourse was so upsetting to the academic community. Mosby was invited to no television programs. He was like the Guerrilla Mosby of the Civil War. When he galloped in, all were slaughtered.


Willmoore Kendall—the inspiration for Mosby—could spellbind and slay. The son of a blind

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