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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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    Juliet's Nurse

    Lois Leveen 9781476757445

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Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature

Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature Cover

 

Review-A-Day

"Lewis Dabney's fine, highly capable new biography is the best picture we now have of Wilson's massive and many-chaptered career. Dabney, who edited Wilson's journal The Sixties, and who probably knows more about his subject than anyone alive, is an intelligent guide, who quotes extensively from the letters and the journals." James Wood, the New Republic (read the entire new Republic review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In his own youth a crucial champion of the young Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wilson went on to write three classics of literary and intellectual history (Axel's Castle, To the Finland Station, and Patriotic Gore), searching reportage, and criticism that has outlasted many of its subjects. Wilson documented his unruly private life--a formative love affair with Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tempestuous marriage to Mary McCarthy, and volatile friendships with Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov, among others--in openly erotic fiction and journals, but Lewis Dabney is the first writer to integrate the life and work.

Dabney traces the critic's intellectual development, from son of small-town New Jersey gentry to America's last great renaissance man, a deep commentator on everything from the Russian classics to Native American rituals to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Along the way, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained--in his cosmopolitanism and trenchant nonconformity--a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader. Edmund Wilson will be recognized as the lasting biography of this brilliant man whose life reflected so much of the cultural, social, and human experience of a turbulent century.

Lewis Dabney edited the Edmund Wilson Reader as well as Wilson's last journal, The Sixties. He is professor of English at the University of Wyoming.
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year
 
From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In his own youth a crucial champion of the young Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wilson went on to write three classics of literary and intellectual history (Axel's Castle, To the Finland Station, and Patriotic Gore), searching reportage, and criticism that has outlasted many of its subjects. Wilson documented his unruly private life—a formative love affair with Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tempestuous marriage to Mary McCarthy, and volatile friendships with Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov, among others—in openly erotic fiction and journals, but Lewis Dabney is the first writer to integrate the life and work.

Dabney traces the critic's intellectual development, from son of small-town New Jersey gentry to America's last great renaissance man, a deep commentator on everything from the Russian classics to Native American rituals to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Along the way, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained—in his cosmopolitanism and trenchant nonconformity—a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader. Edmund Wilson will be recognized as the lasting biography of this brilliant man whose life reflected so much of the cultural, social, and human experience of a turbulent century.

"Dabney . . . is diligent . . . All the information one needs about Wilson is here."—Colm Toibin, The New York Times Book Review
"Dabney . . . is diligent . . . All the information one needs about Wilson is here."—Colm Toibin, The New York Times Book Review
 
"A thoroughgoing, authoritative and consistently engaging look at one of the giants of American letters by an acknowledged expert on his life and writings. Wilson's trenchant literary criticism, his long career, his uproarious domestic life and his manifold friendships are all set down in enthralling detail."—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
"Lewis Dabney's Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature is by far the most comprehensive deep-dish study of both his life and work . . . [It] makes one nostalgic for such a time and such a man."—Allen Barra, The Star-Ledger (Newark)
 
"Dabney sums up Wilson's college experience deftly and with characteristic elegance . . . [and he] is admirably restrained in his treatment of [the] famous literary union, or disunion, [with novelist Mary McCarthy], out of which a lesser biographer would have plucked much dirty linen. He is careful and, so far as one can tell, fair in his account of the famous fight between the couple a few months into their marriage."—John Banville, The Irish Times
 
"Dabney's [new book] is a wonderful, meaty biography of the greatest American critic of the 20th century."—John Banville, The Guardian
 
"Edmund Wilson was the most distinguished and influential literary critic of the twentieth century; he was also a fascinating character and fascinated by life. Lewis Dabney does justice to all aspects of Wilson's career in this incisive, measured, and reflective biography."—Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.

"Edmund Wilson survives as a critic because of his endless vitalism and fierce love of literature. These are the qualities admirably conveyed in Lewis Dabney's eloquent biography."—Harold Bloom

 
"Briskly written and packed with revealing details about a very complicated man, Lewis Dabneys Edmund Wilson is the most satisfying account to date of this accomplished critic, literary journalist, and cultural historian. Lurid episodes in Wilson's personal life blend with Dabney's incisive commentary on the diverse books and articles Wilson steadily turned out for more than fifty years. This is a solid, serious, and entertaining book."—Daniel Aaron, author of Writers on the Left
 
"Dabney follows Wilson's brilliant trajectory from protected youth to Jazz Age high-liver and liver-damaged 'literary alcoholic,' from sexual naïf to the chronicler of suburban sexual high-jinks in Memoirs of Hecate County, from somewhat snooty highbrow to much more worldly highbrow. For all the life changes—and all the adventures and misadventures in the company of Edna Millay, Mary McCarthy, the Algonquian Circle, Vladimir Nabokov, and such—Wilson remained consistent to at least a few principles and pleasures, confessing, for instance, 'that he was never happier than when telling people about a work they were unfamiliar with in a language they didn't know.' That he did so in the pages of The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Vanity Fair ought to make his admirers—and Wilson still has many, having, as Dabney observes, passed the ten-year test for longevity long ago—yearn for better, more lettered days. A solid, much-needed work of literary biography."—Kirkus Reviews
 
"Dabney, who edited The Sixties (1993), the final volume of Wilson's published journals, presents a meticulous biography that is lapidary and illuminating in its proficient explications of Wilson's volatile personal relationships and benchmark writings." Donna Seaman, Booklist (starred review)
 
"This thorough biography gives the definitive treatment to the life and work of one of the early 20th century's most highly revered men of letters . . . A complex account . . . Comprehensive, well-researched."—Library Journal (starred review)
 
"Dabney meticulously unfolds the circumstances behind the writing of his most significant books while tracing the evolution of Wilson's thought . . . Readers seeking an introduction to Wilson will find their perseverance through this hefty tome rewarded with a rich context for approaching his writings."—Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Dabney, who edited The Sixties, the last volume of Wilson's posthumous journals, brings a deep familiarity with his subject to this critical biography. Wilson (1895 — 1972) was mid — 20th-century America's most influential literary critic, and Dabney meticulously unfolds the circumstances behind the writing of his most significant books while tracing the evolution of Wilson's thought. Wilson was equally skilled at criticism and reportage, and fairly successful at fiction — including the scandalously erotic (for the 1940s) novel Memoirs of Hecate County — and Dabney confidently sorts out these varied writings and their part in Wilson's legacy. Biographical details are generally filtered through the literary perspective, but the life story does get a thorough if sometimes slow rendering. The account of Wilson's 'nightmarish' marriage to Mary McCarthy, for example, carefully weighs everything that both authors wrote about the relationship after the fact, as well as the perspectives of other sources, before judging that accusations that Wilson abused her are probably unfounded. Often, though, the best source on Wilson is his own detailed (and uncensored) journals, which frequently add a welcome personalizing touch. Readers seeking an introduction to Wilson will find their perseverance through this hefty tome rewarded with a rich context for approaching his writings." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In this biography, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader.

Synopsis:

From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In his own youth a crucial champion of the young Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wilson went on to write three classics of literary and intellectual history (Axel's Castle, To the Finland Station, and Patriotic Gore), searching reportage, and criticism that has outlasted many of its subjects. Wilson documented his unruly private life--a formative love affair with Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tempestuous marriage to Mary McCarthy, and volatile friendships with Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov, among others--in openly erotic fiction and journals, but Lewis Dabney is the first writer to integrate the life and work.

Dabney traces the critic's intellectual development, from son of small-town New Jersey gentry to America's last great renaissance man, a deep commentator on everything from the Russian classics to Native American rituals to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Along the way, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained--in his cosmopolitanism and trenchant nonconformity--a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader. Edmund Wilson will be recognized as the lasting biography of this brilliant man whose life reflected so much of the cultural, social, and human experience of a turbulent century.

About the Author

Lewis Dabney edited Wilson's last journal, The Sixties as well as Edmund Wilson: Centennial Reflections. He is professor of English at the University of Wyoming.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780374113124
Subtitle:
A Life in Literature
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Author:
Dabney, Lewis
Author:
Dabney, Lewis M.
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Authors, American
Subject:
Critics
Edition Description:
Trade Cloth
Publication Date:
20050803
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Illustrations:
16 Page Black-and-White Photo Insert Not
Pages:
656
Dimensions:
9.00 x 6.00 in

Related Subjects

Biography » Literary
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Humanities » Literary Criticism » General

Edmund Wilson: A Life in Literature
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 656 pages Farrar Straus Giroux - English 9780374113124 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Dabney, who edited The Sixties, the last volume of Wilson's posthumous journals, brings a deep familiarity with his subject to this critical biography. Wilson (1895 — 1972) was mid — 20th-century America's most influential literary critic, and Dabney meticulously unfolds the circumstances behind the writing of his most significant books while tracing the evolution of Wilson's thought. Wilson was equally skilled at criticism and reportage, and fairly successful at fiction — including the scandalously erotic (for the 1940s) novel Memoirs of Hecate County — and Dabney confidently sorts out these varied writings and their part in Wilson's legacy. Biographical details are generally filtered through the literary perspective, but the life story does get a thorough if sometimes slow rendering. The account of Wilson's 'nightmarish' marriage to Mary McCarthy, for example, carefully weighs everything that both authors wrote about the relationship after the fact, as well as the perspectives of other sources, before judging that accusations that Wilson abused her are probably unfounded. Often, though, the best source on Wilson is his own detailed (and uncensored) journals, which frequently add a welcome personalizing touch. Readers seeking an introduction to Wilson will find their perseverance through this hefty tome rewarded with a rich context for approaching his writings." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Lewis Dabney's fine, highly capable new biography is the best picture we now have of Wilson's massive and many-chaptered career. Dabney, who edited Wilson's journal The Sixties, and who probably knows more about his subject than anyone alive, is an intelligent guide, who quotes extensively from the letters and the journals." (read the entire new Republic review)
"Synopsis" by , From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In this biography, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader.
"Synopsis" by , From the Jazz Age through the McCarthy era, Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) stood at the center of the American cultural scene. In his own youth a crucial champion of the young Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald, Wilson went on to write three classics of literary and intellectual history (Axel's Castle, To the Finland Station, and Patriotic Gore), searching reportage, and criticism that has outlasted many of its subjects. Wilson documented his unruly private life--a formative love affair with Edna St. Vincent Millay, a tempestuous marriage to Mary McCarthy, and volatile friendships with Fitzgerald and Vladimir Nabokov, among others--in openly erotic fiction and journals, but Lewis Dabney is the first writer to integrate the life and work.

Dabney traces the critic's intellectual development, from son of small-town New Jersey gentry to America's last great renaissance man, a deep commentator on everything from the Russian classics to Native American rituals to the Dead Sea Scrolls. Along the way, Dabney shows why Wilson was and has remained--in his cosmopolitanism and trenchant nonconformity--a model for young writers and intellectuals, as well as the favorite critic of the general reader. Edmund Wilson will be recognized as the lasting biography of this brilliant man whose life reflected so much of the cultural, social, and human experience of a turbulent century.

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