Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) is widely regarded as the preeminent American man of letters of the twentieth century. Over his long career, he wrote for Vanity Fair, helped edit The New Republic, served as chief book critic for The New Yorker, and was a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books. Wilson was the author of more than twenty books, including Axel’s Castle, Patriotic Gore, and a work of fiction, Memoirs of Hecate County.

IN THE REVIEW

Visiting Malraux and Nabokov

What follows is drawn from the diaries Edmund Wilson kept during the 1950s. Paris, January 1954—Lunch with André Malraux. For this, although feeling rotten and probably with a temperature, I pulled myself together. In the cab on the way there, Elena [Wilson]’s solicitude about me reminded me how little she …

Notes from the Thirties

PROVINCETOWN 1932 —On rainy days and in dreary winter weather you felt cooped up on the narrow land,…like all places where life is so much the water.—A sailboat slipping by at night refreshing the night by a tracing of silent life across it—the dark church of Truro set high on …

Edmund Wilson On Writers and Writing

TO JOHN PEALE BISHOP April 25, 1935 Red Bank, N.J. Dear John: I’ve just read Act of Darkness with great interest, but some disappointment before I’d finished it. It’s the only thing of yours that I remember that seemed to me to be carelessly executed. I believe you …

Edmund Wilson: Letters to John Dos Passos

June 24, 1931 [no address] Dear Dos: I found Sherwood Anderson all full of Communism. He doesn’t know much about it, but the idea has given him a powerful afflatus. He has a new girl, a radical Y.W.C.A. secretary, who took him around to the mills. He is …

Two Letters by Edmund Wilson

The first of the following letters was written to John Jay Chapman, whose book Lucian, Plato and Greek Morals had just been published. It is printed here by courtesy of the Harvard University Libraries. The second letter was written to the critic Morton Dauwen Zabel and is printed by courtesy …

The Monsters of Bomarzo

Among the uniform amenities of Italy there is one patch of ugliness and horror. The Orsini Park of Bomarzo strikes a deliberately discordant note. The explanation of this strange phenomenon has so far been hidden in mystery, and the best one can do about describing it is to begin by …

The First Waste Land——II

There has always been curiosity about the early version of T. S. Eliot’s Waste Land, submitted to Ezra Pound and to some extent altered by Eliot in accordance with Pound’s suggestions. One had always imagined that it must have been preserved among the papers of John Quinn, the rich New …