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 ?
THE LIBRARY OF AMERICA HAS HONORED Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) by publishing two volumes of his literary criticism from the 1920s, '30s, and '40s.
Edmund Wilson is a daunting subject for a biographer because he did such a great variety of things and lived intensely through so many different periods.
Edmund Wilson, Patriotic Gore: Studies in the Literature of the American Civil War (New York: Oxford University Press, 1962), xvi.
Berman's material, drawn from Edmund Wilson and Gilbert Seldes (both of whom he reminds us were known to Hemingway and Fitzgerald), leads him to a creditable but familiar thesis that elements of vaudeville mirrored the discontinuity of life and that the wittiest practitioners developed techniques that targeted "the unrealities of real life" (70).
The fact that the ebb and flow of Civil War memory could be charted in The Atlantic Monthly, Century Magazine, and other popular periodicals led critic Edmund Wilson to observe that "old issues must be put to sleep with the chloroform of magazine prose.
Their lovers and husbands (notably, Philip Rahv, Edmund Wilson, Robert Lowell and Heinrich Bl[ddot{u}]cher) appear on the scene, as do other contemporary literary figures in couples and cameos (Allen Tate and Carolyn Gordon, Lionel and Diana Trilling, Alfred Kazin, Dwight Macdonald, and so on); but Laskin casts as his starring players those three exceptional women who, he incisively shows, ended up rejecting feminism even as an idea (typing and making dinner notwithstanding.
But if this brainy woman, this "woman Stendhal," this wild Irish orphan with the abusive papist uncle and the secret Jewish grandmother, could go to bed with trolls like Philip Rahv and Edmund Wilson, surely there was hope for all of us.
There have been those, notably Edmund Wilson, who surmised that 'Lewis Carroll' obscured a more sympathetic man.
Eliot; the lyrics of Broadway hits were reprinted in the pages of E Scott Fitzgerald; and revues and Follies were described in fascinating detail in the essays of Edmund Wilson.
This reviewer was dumbfounded to learn (and embarrassed to learn belatedly) that Lincoln biographer Carl Sandburg was, in the words of writer Edmund Wilson, "the worst thing to happen to Lincoln since Booth shot him.
When Edmund Wilson was eased out of his job as Executive Director of the American Humanist Association, he soon thereafter (1967) founded the Fellowship of Religious Humanism.
Deborah, 31, of Acomb, near York, died after emergency surgery for head injuries after the fall in the city's Edmund Wilson Pool last April.