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Upstate: Records and Recollections of Northern New York

by Edmund Wilson

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116None174,189 (4.21)4
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    Strong Opinions by Vladimir Nabokov (SnootyBaronet)
    SnootyBaronet: Fraught friendship of Edmund Wilson and Vladimir Nabokov

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Upstate is a highly satisfactory Wilsonian book, filled with sharp personal details, long scholarly asides on those things or people or notions (like New York religions) that had caught his fancy.
added by SnootyBaronet | editNew York Review of Books, Gore Vidal
Only the European panoptic scholars come near matching Wilson for learning, and for sheer range of critical occupation there is no modern man to match him, not even Croce. If Upstate tends to give the impression that his wonted energy now only faintly flickers, the reader needs to remind himself sharply that the mental power in question is still of an order sufficient to illuminate the average city...

Upstate very nearly is a hopeless book, and for a long while we suspect that Wilson has gone cold on America. But finally we see that he hasn’t, quite: as the girl Mary works to establish herself in a way that her European origins would probably not have allowed, the American adventure haltingly begins all over again, at the eleventh hour and in the fifty-ninth minute.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe London Review of Books, Clive James
Diaries are only for dipping into, but the attraction of Mr. Wilson’s lies in its unconscious self-portraiture. He is energized by the interests that have made him a great American critic and masterful eccentric. He has always been a searching observer. As he says, he has always been interested in countries, flora, fauna, primitive men and mechanized men, as well as in books, and now, after a long life, and, alas, ailing, he expects no real novelty. His curiosity now is for what mildly amuses his formidable faculties.
added by SnootyBaronet | editThe New York Review of Books, V.S. Pritchett
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One morning when I was up at 6, the pane with the Nabokov poem on the upstairs door to the balcony came out in a beautiful way against the pink background at dawn, looking like a pattern of frost. I called up Volodya and told him this, and he came back with one of his inescapable puns: “There’s an English word for that, rime.”
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