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Gift ideas -- arts, literature, book for children; Fine, challenging look at Kent; Rockwell Kent: An Anthology of His Work, edited by Fridolph Johnson. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 358 pp. $60.

Kent was one of the most fascinating figures 20th-century America has so far produced - a painter, printmaker, illustrator, writer, architect, explorer, politician, and pamphleteer. And he left a large body of work behind as proof.

This is the first fully representative selection of his work in book form. It includes prime examples of his oils (many of them in color); illustrations for such books as ''Moby Dick,'' ''Leaves of Grass,'' and ''Beowulf''; prints, drawings, and designs; and an anthology of his writings. Also included are several of his letters to influential individuals, pointing out the error of their ways. In all, an excellent and challenging book.

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