Oh, this is too easy. The Death of Virgil by Herman Broch. I read the first chapter and thought, this has to be one of the greatest books I ever read, and then never went back to it.
Gotta admit, I don’t agree with you about Dewey’s prose. For example, I was totally roped in by the first sentence of Democracy and Education:
The most notable distinction between living and inanimate things is that the former maintain themselves by renewal.
What nutrition and reproduction are to physiological life, education is to social life. This education consists primarily in transmission through communication. Communication is a process of sharing experience till it becomes a common possession.
Each to his or her own taste, certainly, but this is pretty good stuff…