By Jeffrey Meyers
This complete biography of prolific critic, essayist, historian, and novelist Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) posits, fairly effectively, that the topic lived a existence as romantic and chaotic as his pal F. Scott Fitzgerald's. Wilson suffered a apprehensive breakdown and the tragic loss of life of his moment spouse (he used to be married 4 instances, between them, Mary McCarthy); had affairs with various attractive ladies, together with Edna St. Vincent Millay; and was once good friend to literary giants akin to John Dos Passos, Vladimir Nabakov, and W.H. Auden.
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Extra resources for Edmund Wilson: A Biography
This admittedly arbitrary checklist used to be striking for the authors it skipped over. there has been no point out of O'Neill, Fitzgerald and Faulkner in prose, or of Stevens, Williams, Marianne Moore, Cummings or Hart Crane in poetry. Tate and Wylie have been acquaintances; Adams already used to be and Bogan quickly will be Wilson's lover. Wilson tended to overpraise (as we've seen) the paintings of Phelps Putnam, Elinor Wylie and Dos Passos. however the such a lot severe instance of his partiality, which damage his serious recognition, was once his perspective towards Edna Millay. In July 1923, after she had lower back from Europe, Millay married a traditional Dutch espresso importer, Eugen Boissevain. whilst Wilson observed her 4 years later, he used to be stunned and disenchanted via her actual decline. At thirty-five she looked as if it would have misplaced loads of her poetical air of mystery and to have absorbed a few features of an effective Dutch burgher: "She appeared good and common back, virtually strong no makeup, a dreary white-flecked grey gown, which, contributor with the editor first it — EDMUND WILSON eighty even though, she insisted, had come from a really pricey and stable position. a lot greater than they was rarely think they have been an analogous ones I had enjoyed. Nor did that i may Her arms and ft and ankles have been so — imagine her placing on had spoiled — and her mouth, which appeared thicker than used her throat appear so attractive its contour flesh I to, it printed monstrous sq. entrance the teeth. " In his lengthy memorial essay, released in 1952, years after her loss of life, Wilson insisted that "my my He then instantly contradicted himself by means of equating her with great writers like Proust, Mann and Joyce: "Edna Millay turns out to me one of many merely poets writing in English in estimate of Edna Millay's paintings hasn't ever been a lot affected by means of own feelings approximately her. " our time who have attained to something just like the stature of serious literary which prose has ruled. " 12 although Wilson's estimate of Millay now turns out wildly inflated, it really is worthy noting that his opinion was once shared by means of the critical and sensible figures in an age in poet-critic A. E. pal Housman. In mid-January 1932, Housman advised his Sydney Cockerell that Millay was once "the top dwelling American most up-to-date e-book, deadly Interview, used to be "mighty sturdy. " poet" and that her however, after writing a hugely favorable observe of Millay's dialog at middle of the night (1937), Wilson got a letter from the poet Ho- race Gregory, which uncovered a weak aspect in his serious armor: how one can thirteen more youthful staff at the present time. " write intelligently of Auden or an individual of the even though Gregory used to be definitely correct approximately Millay, Wilson may, in a while, shrewdly appraise the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, John Berryman and Randall Jarrell, and write penetrating essays on either Auden and "If you settle for leave out Millay as your criterion, i do not see Robert Lowell. ailing through the early Nineteen Twenties Peale Bishop, Wilson remained on who mixed shut phrases with John Paramore's rakishness with the intense- ness of Dos Passos.