Edmund Wilson


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Wilson, Edmund,

1895–1972, American critic and author, b. Red Bank, N.J. grad. Princeton, 1916. He is considered one of the most important American literary and social critics of the 20th cent. From 1920 to 1921 he was managing editor of Vanity Fair, and he was later on the staffs of the New Republic (1926–31) and New Yorker (1944–48). In the 1930s he was much interested in the theories of FreudFreud, Sigmund
, 1856–1939, Austrian psychiatrist, founder of psychoanalysis. Born in Moravia, he lived most of his life in Vienna, receiving his medical degree from the Univ. of Vienna in 1881.

His medical career began with an apprenticeship (1885–86) under J.
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 and MarxMarx, Karl,
1818–83, German social philosopher, the chief theorist of modern socialism and communism. Early Life

Marx's father, a lawyer, converted from Judaism to Lutheranism in 1824.
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, ideas that are treated in many of his works. Among his major writings are Axel's Castle (1931), a study of symbolism (see symbolistssymbolists,
in literature, a school originating in France toward the end of the 19th cent. in reaction to the naturalism and realism of the period. Designed to convey impressions by suggestion rather than by direct statement, symbolism found its first expression in poetry but
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) and other imaginative modernist literatures; The Wound and the Bow (1941); The Shores of Light (1952); and Patriotic Gore (1962), on the American Civil War.

As a critic Wilson was concerned with the social, psychological, and political conditions that shape literary ideas. His social studies include To the Finland Station (1940), a history of the European revolutionary tradition that praises the Soviet Union (a position he soon reversed), and The American Earthquake (1958), a record of the Great Depression. His versatility is further revealed in his I Thought of Daisy (1929), a novel; Memoirs of Hecate County (1949), short stories; and Five Plays (1954). Wilson also edited F. Scott FitzgeraldFitzgerald, F. Scott
(Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald), 1896–1940, American novelist and short-story writer, b. St. Paul, Minn. He is ranked among the great American writers of the 20th cent.
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's unfinished The Last Tycoon and posthumous The Crack-up (both: 1945). His later works include Israel and the Dead Sea Scrolls (1955), A Window on Russia (1973), and The Devils and Canon Barham: 10 Essays on Poets, Novelists, and Monsters (1973). Wilson's third wife was the author Mary McCarthyMcCarthy, Mary Therese,
1912–89, American writer, b. Seattle, grad. Vassar, 1933. As drama critic for the Partisan Review (1937–45), she gained a reputation for wit, intellect, and acerbity.
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.

Bibliography

See The Edmund Wilson Reader (1997, ed. by L. M. Dabney) and essays and reviews of the 1930s and 40s, ed. by L. M. Dabney (2007); his letters, ed. by E. Wilson (1977), letters with Vladimir Nabokov, ed. by S. Karlinsky (1979), and other letters, ed. by D. Castronova and J. Groth (2002); The Sixties: The Last Journals (1993, ed. by L. M. Dabney); his notebooks and diaries, ed. by L. Edel (4 vol., 1975–86); memoirs of his daughter, R. Wilson (1989); his autobiographical Piece of My Mind: Reflections at Sixty (1956) and Upstate: Records and Recollections of Northern New York (1971); biographies by C. P. Frank (1970), J. Groth (1989), J. Meyers (1995), and L. M. Dabney (2005); studies by G. Douglas (1983) and D. Castronovo (1984 and 1998); bibliography by R. D. Ramsey (1971).

Wilson, Edmund

(1895–1972) writer, editor; born in Red Bank, N.J. After taking his B.A. at Princeton (1916) and serving with the U.S. Army in World War I, he went to New York City and became an editor for such periodicals as Vanity Fair (1920–21) and the New Republic (1926–31); he was the regular book reviewer for the New Yorker (1944–48) and thereafter contributed occasional reviews. He wrote a novel, plays, poems, and short stories, but except for a collection of the last named, Memoirs of Hecate County (1946), his creative work did not command much attention. Instead, he gained his reputation as the dean of American letters through his erudite and trenchant nonfictional works. As he became interested in various topics, he would learn whatever languages were necessary, and after immersing himself in the subject, he would produce his own original interpretations, such as To the Finland Station: A Study in the Writing and Acting of History (1940) and The Scrolls from the Dead Sea (1955). His major reputation rests on his literary criticism, exhibited in such works as Axel's Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870–1930 (1931) and Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War (1962). He edited the uncollected works of his Princeton classmate, F. Scott Fitzgerald (1954), and wrote countless magazine articles, essays, and reviews. He published two autobiographical works, and after his death a series of memoirs were extracted from his diaries and notebooks. He was married four times, including to Mary McCarthy (1938–46). Based in New York City for much of his life, he also spent parts of each year in Wellfleet, Mass., and at his family home in upstate New York.
References in periodicals archive ?
Kazin set his sights on being an intellectual-at-large, the Jewish Edmund Wilson.
But Edmund Wilson, one of the major fans of Waugh's comic novels, dismissed Brideshead as a "religious tract," though that may have been in response to Waugh's snub of Wilson as "some Yank" from overseas.
These ideological intimations led Edmund Wilson to dismiss her as irrelevant, declaring her "the last surviving person to believe in those quaint old notions on which the republic was founded.
He scintillated; he was good-natured and humorous; he communicated enthusiasm and, as Edmund Wilson said, 'his books were like the floral bombs and the close-packed rockets of fireworks'.
Edmund Wilson, who supervises the South Bureau special unit.
In this respect, Francoise Clary, who writes an interesting essay on "the significance of the water metaphor" in Cane, might have compared her theme to what Edmund Wilson, writing on The Waste Land in The Dial only a month after the poem was publishe d, called "The Poetry of Drouth.
Edmund Wilson in 1962 made use of his debunking of Lincoln to smooth the way for his claim that the confrontation between the Soviet Union and the United States had no moral dimension.
I must confess however that the average detective novel puts me in mind of the title of the classic essay by Edmund Wilson, way back in the 1940s, Who Cares Who Killed Roger Acroyd?
After a visit in 1931, author and critic Edmund Wilson proclaimed it "the most magnificent example extant of the American seaside hotel.
That theme is continued in "Part Four: Dreams and Awakenings 1915--1945," a period when--no matter that eastern critics like Edmund Wilson denied it--this state's literature surged, with major writers developing or settling all over the state: Robinson Jeffers, Dashiell Hammett, William Saroyan, John Steinbeck, Raymond Chandler, Nathaniel West.
Playtime: Adult Language Learning, Edmund Wilson and Me," describes his experiences and those of the renowned American critic who started to learn Hungarian at sixty-five, and also explores the relationship between language and culture.
There have been those, notably Edmund Wilson, who surmised that 'Lewis Carroll' obscured a more sympathetic man.