By Jeffrey Meyers
This finished biography of prolific critic, essayist, historian, and novelist Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) posits, really effectively, that the topic lived a existence as romantic
and chaotic as his good friend F. Scott Fitzgerald's. Wilson suffered a anxious breakdown and the tragic dying of his moment spouse (he was once married 4 instances, between them, Mary
McCarthy); had affairs with a number of appealing ladies, together with Edna St. Vincent Millay; and used to be pal to literary giants akin to John Dos Passos, Vladimir Nabakov, and
W.H. Auden. This biography lines the evolution of Edmund Wilson, the priggish younger student, whom e.e. cummings referred to as the fellow with the iron necktie. the main prodigious guy of letters of this century, Wilson's erudition, undefined, subtlety, acerbity and analytical energy made him stand on my own between scholar-writer-journalists. sixteen pages of photographs.
A notable feat of biographical sleuthing, this refreshingly down-to-earth lifetime of critic Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) friends underneath the crusty character of a grandee of
the literary institution to painting a tormented, stressed, sexually hyperactive guy, a tricky, heavy-drinking husband to 4 better halves, a domineering, lecturing father to his
three young ones. Biographer of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Meyers considers Wilson the main clever and cosmopolitan determine in American letters, a foe of senseless
authority and ideological conformity; but that review is undercut through Wilson's flirtation with communism, his isolationism in WWII and his insistence as past due as 1957 that U.S. battle crimes have been much more terrible than Nazi Germany's. We research that Wilson's moment spouse, California socialite Margaret Canby, died no longer through slipping on pavement, as newspapers suggested; as an alternative, "almost definitely drunk," she fell down a flight of stairs and fractured her cranium. Meyers rejects 3rd spouse Mary McCarthy's vitriolic-pen photographs of Wilson, arguing that their marriage, although stormy, used to be hugely effective for either one of them. He additionally illuminates Wilson's friendships with Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Malraux, Auden et al. and his sexual affairs with Edna St. Vincent Millay, Anais Nin and Louise Bogan. this can be the fullest portrait thus far of a author who, in Meyers's judgment, turned more and more alienated from the fashionable world.
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Additional info for Edmund Wilson: A Biography
At Princeton, unlike most major universities, professors cultivated the brightest students and often invited them to dinner. In this way, Wilson came to know his two outstanding teachers Norman Kemp Smith and Christian Gauss (both of whom became lifelong friends) both socially and intellectually. Kemp Smith, born in Dundee in spired by Alfred Rolfe, — — 1872, taught for when phy the Great at the many years War broke Princeton and then returned to Britain at out to take up the Chair of Moral Philoso- University of Edinburgh.
His "infinite learning, infinite range of interest, infinite intelligence sympathy" made him an inspiring teacher. In his poem on and Gauss, written in 1920, Wilson, Watching his clear green eyes, as hard and as fine as gems, Heard him speak of books and politics and people, With his incredible learning and his cloudless mind. 8 Gauss' essay on Wilson at Princeton, published in 1944, provides a nice balance to Wilson's memoir of Gauss. Like Wilson, Gauss de- and fixed in the past, as a pleasant and where the students "lived outwardly at least in a kind of campus dream world which had come down to them with little change from the Golden Nineties" and which was scarcely affected by the European war that broke out in the summer of 19 14.
And nervous young his life; grow When asked her where she got the name, she explained that as and in man retained the childishly apt — The a shy, sensitive Bunny throughout — seemed to from schooldays through the him Bunny. After that, he became more formi- middle age all pink and white and round into his name. His oldest friends, twenties, always called known to more recent friends as Edmund. Though Bunny came from a long line of ministers, he dable and was reacted from the rigors of Calvinism.
Edmund Wilson: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers