Books by Edmund Wilson

I THOUGHT OF DAISY by Edmund Wilson
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

"His own best critic, Wilson recognized the schematic design of his prose, but he was too hard on himself—the book stands up to time."
Best known for his literary and historical criticism (Axel's Castle, To The Finland Station, Patriotic Gore), Wilson (1895-1972) never gave up on fiction and verse. Read full book review >
THE HIGHER JAZZ by Edmund Wilson
Released: Nov. 15, 1998

"Still, this comes as a welcome addition to the Wilson canon, offering fresh, frank snapshots of Manhattan in the '20s, and reminding us that Wilson—though his great gift was criticism—also showed considerable skill as a novelist."
This unfinished and hitherto unpublished novel, drafted and then set aside by prodigious critic Wilson in the early1940s, offers some wonderfully vivid glimpses of the feverish last moments of the Jazz Age. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 1, 1995

"Groth and Castronovo have found both useful undertakings and curiosa from Wilson's career, but as a companion volume, this cannot quite keep up with the rest of his corpus."
Although Edmund Wilson himself prepared much of his prodigious critical output for posterity, including three volumes of selected short essays, there is enough left over to make up a serviceable, if slightly reduced, overview. Read full book review >
THE SIXTIES by Edmund Wilson
Released: July 1, 1993

"Candor and intelligence come through on every page—in this always absorbing journal by perhaps the last great man of American letters."
The last of Wilson's five volumes of journals is as entertaining and full of gossipy detail as the first four (The Fifties, 1986, etc.)—and together they form an amazing literary document of the first half of the century. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 1, 1986

"These journals form a permanent and valuable record of Wilson's interests and tastes during the 1950's; they also offer an amusing if informal social and literary history of that era."
Wilson kept extensive journals and diary entries for the entire decade of the 50's and these excerpts—beautifully edited by Edel—offer his trademark blend of crotchetiness and literary acumen. Read full book review >
Released: April 28, 1983

"Still, students of Wilson's oeuvre will, as always, find illuminating notes-into-essay clues here, as well as a few jottings re an unfinished novel; and the travel material includes offbeat run-ins with such contemporaries as George Santayana, Evelyn Waugh, and Felix Frankfurter—who told EW in 1949, at Tanglewood, that he approved of Hecate County."
To an even greater degree than previous volumes of Wilson's notebook/diaries, this third installment is largely taken up with travel/reporter notes for future books and journalism: here he is visiting end-of-the-war Italy and Greece, postwar Haiti and the Zuni—and editor Edel scrupulously indicates, sequence by sequence, the sources of passages in Europe Without Baedeker and Red, Black, Blond and Olive. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1980

"But, for students of the man and the period (especially since EW had a finger in so many pies): a hefty, varied sourcebook."
Like The Twenties (1975), this massive assemblage from Wilson's journals is more impressive as evidence of his energy, curiosity, and diligence than as illumination or entertainment; editor Edel is right on the mark when he says that the journals "served largely the function of memory and self-discipline." Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 17, 1977

"Let his curiosity, range, and responsiveness be contagious."
Was he, finally, too various? Read full book review >
Released: May 23, 1975

"Still the sort of'literature' that E.W. calls 'the result of our rude collisions with reality' is not here."
Borges says that the element that wears least well in writing issur prise. Read full book review >
Released: June 11, 1973

"His reputation as the most formidable man of letters of his generation has long been assured."
In Edmund Wilson's last collection of essays and reviews, gathered from The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books, we see that in his declining years he turned more and more to the past, styling himself as a "man of the Twenties," producing nostalgic evocations of childhood loves (his "fetishistic feeling" for Richard Harris Barham's The Ingoldsby Legends), commemorating enthusiasms of his intellectual youth (Mencken and Hemingway and The Waste Land), rescuing unfashonable authors from oblivion (Maurice Baring's books project "the varied conversation, at times almost opalescent, of a very pleasant companion, whom it is always refreshing to listen to, even if one may not always remember exactly what it was he said"), delineating the virtues of turn-of-the-century America through a suitably leisurely study of two neglected social novelists (Henry Fuller and Harold Frederic), and, finally, like the unrepentant anti,academic scholar that he is, castigating with acidulous glee, the phoney-baloney publishing practices of the Modern Language Association. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 21, 1972

"Included in the current miscellany is the famous controversy between Nabokov and Wilson over Evgeni Onegin, which first appeared in The New York Review, and two really splendid chapters on Svetlana and Solzhenitsyn which appeared in The New Yorker."
The glory of the late Edmund Wilson, as Frank Kermode remarked, has always been "his ability to identify, even if he could not completely describe, the master-spirit of an age." Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 1, 1971

"You will find him antipatico which is just where the tattletale quotient of this memoir is heightened; but then, after faulting Van Wyck Brooks for paying too much attention to all the reviews of his books, you will find it depressing to think of Mr. Wilson getting up at four o'clock in the morning to read 'old reviews of my books."
Anouilh once said "When you're forty, half of you belongs to the past — and when you are seventy, nearly all of you." Mr. Wilson's retrospective belongs wholly to that past and, except for the initial section dealing with a still earlier one, it is based on the diaries he kept during the last twenty years which he has converted here into a book — "a last effort to fill a vacuum"? Read full book review >
Released: May 19, 1969

"When compounded by the profound hostility, tension and frustration of life in the Middle East today it is no wonder that scholarship marches slowly and only someone of Wilson's caliber seems willing or able to take on the enormous task of explaining to the layman just what the acrimony and controversy is all about."
In this revision of the story of the Dead Sea scrolls, with more than half new material, Wilson acts as a scholarly reporter, one who has visited the sites and talked with innumerable archaeologists, linguists, orientalists and Biblical authorities of all degrees of pious or impious persuasion. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 21, 1968

"MPSLUGDR McGrath' appeared in Commentary, and the second scene of 'Osbert's Career' in the New Republic."
Mr. Wilson's recent closet drama. Read full book review >
Released: June 21, 1967

"Wilson's interlocking commentary on these efforts is amiable, inconsequential, and detached."
No doubt the popes of literary fashion will proclaim the divinity of Edmund Wilson at any moment. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 29, 1965

"Wilson's great gift is his ability to instruct painstakingly yet painlessly, to make vivid the most abstruse material; never windy, never inflated, reading him is always to be in touch with literature and life."
Edmund Wilson, the dean of literary journalism, the author of Axel's Castle, the man who refuses to acknowledge unsolicited mail, unpublished manuscripts, or any mass-media requests, friend of legendary figures and a bit of a legend himself, 71 years old and still pouring forth, the only contemporary reviewer ever to have reprinted his "literary chronicles" from the Twenties onwards to the present, a polyglot, a paragon of taste, honored by all, even the White House- how pleasant, then, to attack so prestigious a personage! Read full book review >
Released: May 3, 1965

"And his analyses of the political machinations of the late Maurice Duplessis and the past censorship tactics of Quebec's clerical hierarchy are pointedly Set against the younger generation's mood of rebellion, exemplified in part by the avant garde work of Marie-Claire Blais and the existentialist concerns of John Buell."
With these notes on certain aspects of Canadian culture, most of which appeared originally in The New Yorker, Edmund Wilson performs like someone taking rabbits out of hats. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 1, 1963

"Let us be grateful for so courageous an entry into so controversial an arena."
Between the year 1946 and the year 1955, I did not file any income tax returns", so begins the True Confession of the Dean of American Critics, Edmund Wilson, in a book bound to cause comment and serious concern. Read full book review >
Released: April 26, 1962

"No book for hurried reading, this brilliant study will appeal to discerning readers both North and South; it belongs in public and university libraries, and in all comprehensive collections of American literary criticism."
In this long and challenging book Edmund Wilson presents a critical analysis of the works of some 30 men and women, novelists, generals, poets; politicans, diarists, who saw the Civil War at first hand and who wrote of what they saw. Read full book review >
Released: Dec. 5, 1961

"For Wilson followers, who are fondly familiar with his writing, this offers some delightful insights."
This is a chronologically arranged collection of prose and poetry (the earliest here, dating from 1917-1919) characterized by spontaneity and wit. Read full book review >
Released: Jan. 1, 1960

"One feels in conclusion this is one book every American concerned with every aspect of personal liberty should not miss."
Beginning with one of Joseph Mitchell's excellent New Yorker pieces, "Mohawks in High Steel", as introductory material, this is the collection of Edmund Wilson's recent series in the same magazine about the Iroquois Nations. Read full book review >
Released: Feb. 6, 1957

"Wilson's audience, an assured one, will be happy with this product."
This is a collection of pieces, written in the twenties and thirties, on the American social and political scenes. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 12, 1956

"Most of the pieces appear for the first time; some, such as the 1925 dialogue between a zoologist as proponent of fathomed mysteries and progress and an iguana, happy to bask in the mystery and status quo of his iguanaverse, have been printed before."
The warp of one man's thought runs through the woof of several essays on major elements of contemporary man's experience. Read full book review >
Released: Nov. 10, 1950

"But there is no question that, within his limitations, which are highly intellectual in taste and expectations, Wilson is an interesting if demanding critic."
From the New Yorker, the Nation, New Republic and other periodicals, this collects between covers some 67 critical articles. Read full book review >
Released: May 19, 1950

"Make mine Coleridge, upon consideration he is really less old hat than this is."
An equivocal play- both as to form and content- whose admixture of so many disparate elements fails to jell. Read full book review >
Released: March 1, 1948

"The editor has included not only the longer pleases, but short, witty, sparkling fragments; Unfortunately, audience."
A marked contribution to America's growing body of literary criticism. Read full book review >
Released: Oct. 23, 1947

"On Wilson's name, this will get more sober consideration than another reporter might secure."
Things seen and heard by the author-critic, in 1945 travels to London, Rome, Milan, Athens, Delphi, Crete, Naples. Read full book review >
Released: June 4, 1943

"Stimulating reading, but for students of literature primarily."
An Interesting collection of literary documents, which provides a chronicle of the progress of literature in the United States as recorded by its creators through essays, critical works, memoirs, journals, letters and so on. Read full book review >
Released: July 29, 1941

"Shorter appraisals follow — of ssnava, Edith Wharton, Hemingway, James Joyce, and Sophocles' Philo Important for school and college libraries, for public libraries, for study groups."
Edmund Wilson is one of the few consistently competent critics of this time — to many the outstanding. Read full book review >
Released: Sept. 26, 1940

"Wilson is one of the finest liberal critics of our time — and this study though not for the general reader, is important as analysis of the progress of the social world, up to a certain point."
The sub title indicates the scope of this acute and well ordered study of revolution, in theory and in action. Read full book review >
Released: March 17, 1938

"His keen analysis of Shaw's shifting about on different stages simplifies our comprehension of this 80-year old paradox, Wilson writes with artistic ease and has the faculty of creating living figures out of writers who have passed into limbo for the average person, but whom he makes still live."
A group of essays that have more than ordinary appeal, and should reach a wider market than the ordinary volume of the kind. Read full book review >
Released: May 28, 1936

"Quite entertaining reading and unbalanced as it is — is an interesting revelation of contrasting life."
Twenty years ago a red-headed boy nurtured in the aristocratic Ivy Club walked out of the conservative halls of Princeton and after taking many paths landed in the left wing of Socialism. Read full book review >