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Author photo. Courtesy of the <a href="http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital/id?484386">NYPL Digital Gallery</a> (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery (image use requires permission from the New York Public Library)

Edmund Wilson (1895–1972)

Author of To the Finland Station

Includes the names: Edmund Wison, Edmund Wilson, editor Edmund Wilson

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Wilson roamed the world and read widely in many languages. He was a journalist for leading literary periodicals: Vanity Fair, where he was briefly managing editor; The New Republic, where he was associate editor for five years; and the New Yorker, where he was book reviewer in the 1940s. These varied experiences were typical of Wilson's range of interests and ability. Eternally productive and endlessly readable, he conquered American literature in countless essays. If he is idiosyncratic and lacks a rigid mold, that probably contributes to his success as a literary critic, since he was not committed to interpretation in the straitjacket of some popular approach or dogma. His critical position suits his cosmopolitan background---historical and sociological considerations prevail. He went through a brief Marxist period and experimented with Freudian criticism. Axel's Castle (1931), a penetrating analysis of the symbolist writer, has exerted a great influence on contemporary literary criticism. Its dedication, to Christian Gauss of Princeton, reads:"It was principally from you that I acquired.. .my idea of what literary criticism ought to be---a history of man's ideas and imaginings in the setting of the conditions which have shaped them."His volume of satiric short stories, Memoirs of Hecate County (1946), with its frankly erotic passages, was the subject of court cases in a less tolerant decade than the present one. It was Wilson's own favorite among his writings, but he complained that those individuals who like his other work tend to disregard it. (Bowker Author Biography) — biography from To the Finland Station… (more)
To the Finland Station 1,260 copies, 23 reviews
The Crack-Up (Editor) 897 copies, 10 reviews
Memoirs of Hecate County 549 copies, 5 reviews
The scrolls from the Dead Sea 459 copies, 4 reviews
Apologies to the Iroquois 126 copies, 1 review
Europe Without Baedeker 72 copies, 1 review
Eight essays 32 copies, 1 review
Night Thoughts 24 copies
The Higher Jazz 24 copies
Galahad and I Thought of Daisy 20 copies, 1 review
The Intent of the Critic (Contributor; Contributor) 15 copies
Five Plays 12 copies
The fruits of the MLA 8 copies, 1 review
The Collected Essays of John Peale Bishop (Introduction; Editor) 6 copies
Galahad 4 copies
Obra selecta 2 copies
Szkice 1 copy
The Last Tycoon (Foreword, some editions; Editor, some editions; Preface, some editions) 2,491 copies, 24 reviews
The Waste Land (Norton Critical Editions) (Contributor) 1,486 copies, 12 reviews
50 Great Short Stories (Contributor) 1,197 copies, 7 reviews
The Best American Essays of the Century (Contributor) 754 copies, 4 reviews
Brief Lives (Foreword, some editions) 678 copies, 8 reviews
Nightmare Abbey (Foreword, some editions) 420 copies, 14 reviews
Critical Theory Since Plato (Contributor, some editions) 391 copies, 1 review
The QPB Companion to The Lord of the Rings (Contributor) 349 copies, 1 review
Writing New York: A Literary Anthology (Contributor) 272 copies, 4 reviews
The 40s: The Story of a Decade (Contributor) 261 copies, 4 reviews
Peasants and Other Stories (Editor) 209 copies, 3 reviews
The Norton Book of Personal Essays (Contributor) 142 copies, 1 review
A Comprehensive Anthology of American Poetry (Contributor) 125 copies, 2 reviews
The Great Gatsby / Tender Is The Night / The Last Tycoon (Editor, some editions) 106 copies, 1 review
Twentieth-Century American Poetry (Contributor) 93 copies, 2 reviews
The Complete Works of Kate Chopin (Southern Literary Studies) (Foreword, some editions; Foreword) 36 copies, 1 review
A. E. Housman: A Collection of Critical Essays (Contributor) 22 copies, 1 review
The Dial, Vol LXXVII No 3, September 1924 (Contributor, some editions) 1 copy
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Short biography
Edmund Wilson was born in Red Bank, New Jersey. He attended The Hill School, a private boarding school in Pennsylvania, where he served as the editor-in-chief of the school's literary magazine, then went on to Princeton University, where he was a classmate of F. Scott Fitzgerald. Their friendship became one of the most important literary relationships in the history of American letters. Wilson read omnivorously across the spectrum of modern European and Russian writers, including Proust, Joyce, Eliot, Valéry, Dostoyevsky, Gogol, and Pushkin, along with almost all the 20th century American writers. He began his writing career as a reporter for the New York Sun, and became the managing editor of Vanity Fair in 1920. He later served as associate editor of The New Republic and as a book reviewer for The New Yorker and The New York Review of Books. He wrote plays, poems, and novels, but his greatest influence was as a literary critic, essayist, and historian. These books included Axel's Castle: A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870–1930 (1931) a sweeping survey of Symbolism. To the Finland Station (1940) was a broad study of European socialism up to the Bolsheviks Revolution. Wilson's work was heavily influenced by the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Karl Marx, and in turn, his work influenced novelists such as Upton Sinclair, John Dos Passos, Sinclair Lewis, and Theodore Dreiser. Wilson was married four times, most famously to Mary McCarthy, who was 17 years his junior, from 1938 to 1946.

Wilson edited the posthumous papers and notebooks of his college friend F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Crack-Up (1945), and also edited the novel The Last Tycoon (1941), which Fitzgerald had left uncompleted at his death.
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