Edmund Wilson: A Biography by Jeffrey Meyers

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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 buddy F. Scott Fitzgerald's. Wilson suffered a frightened breakdown and the tragic dying of his moment spouse (he was once married 4 occasions, between them, Mary
McCarthy); had affairs with various attractive girls, together with Edna St. Vincent Millay; and was once good friend to literary giants corresponding to John Dos Passos, Vladimir Nabakov, and
W.H. Auden. This biography lines the evolution of Edmund Wilson, the priggish younger pupil, whom e.e. cummings known as the fellow with the iron necktie. the main prodigious guy of letters of this century, Wilson's erudition, undefined, subtlety, acerbity and analytical strength made him stand by myself between scholar-writer-journalists. sixteen pages of images.

A extraordinary 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 tough, heavy-drinking husband to 4 better halves, a domineering, lecturing father to his
three youngsters. 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 evaluation is undercut by means of Wilson's flirtation with communism, his isolationism in WWII and his insistence as overdue as 1957 that U.S. conflict crimes have been much more terrible than Nazi Germany's. We research that Wilson's moment spouse, California socialite Margaret Canby, died no longer via slipping on pavement, as newspapers stated; in its place, "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 up to now of a author who, in Meyers's judgment, turned more and more alienated from the fashionable world.

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Additional resources for Edmund Wilson: A Biography

Sample text

He would] explain, in his full to Edinburgh to see . " don and . 192 1 and in 1945. The most important influence on Wilson at Princeton was Chris- who became a surrogate father and gave him the emotional companionship he never received from the remote and austere Edmund Sr. Gauss' father, who came from Baden, emigrated to the United States after participating in the abortive German revolution tian Gauss, and intellectual of 1848. Gauss himself, born thirty years later in a German-speaking household in Ann Arbor, graduated from the University of Michigan at The highly respectable Gauss had once enjoyed a the age of twenty.

That was really the thing that started me off, my first literary stirrings. I did a paper on Sterne for my English master. " In "The Successful Mr. Sterne: 'Lives of Great Men All Remind Us' " (April 191 1), Wilson first found, under Taine's influence, the biographical method he would later employ in To the Finland Station and The Wound and the Bow. tles: II — by the — no trouble gaining admission alism of The Hill had The precociously learned Wilson discipline fortified and ide- to Princeton, and followed his father and uncles to the university in 191 2.

Book, nineteenth-century novelists. His grades, however, did not many reflect his intellectual ability. bright students, he preferred to pursue his own Like interests rather than study the prescribed curriculum. During the three terms of his sophomore year (1909-19 10), for example, Wilson took a formidable array of classes: English, English Composition, Latin, Latin tion, Greek, French, Algebra and Declamation. He Composi- earned his best (though not very good) grades during the spring term: dismal lows of 58 in Latin Composition and 59 in Algebra, highs of 81 in English and 84 in Declamation (the easiest course).

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