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Library of America Edmund Wilson Edition

Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson: Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s & 30s (LOA #176) by Edmund Wilson
Edmund Wilson: Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1930s & 40s (LOA #177) by Edmund Wilson

Library of America Edmund Wilson Edition : Titles in Order

Book 2
Edmund Wilson was the dominant American literary critic from the 1920s until his death in 1972, but he was also far more than that: a chronicler of his times, a historian of ideas, a probing observer of himself and of the society around him.

Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1930s and 40s shows Wilson at the midpoint of his extraordinary career as critic and scholar, and includes in complete form three of his most significant books. The Triple Thinkers (1938, revised 1948) and The Wound and the Bow (1941) give us Wilson at the height of his powers, in a series of extended literary studies marked by his unique combination of criticism, biographical narrative, and psychological analysis. Here are his dazzling portraits of Pushkin and Flaubert, Dickens and Henry James, Kipling and Casanova, equally sensitive to historical context and his subjects’ inner lives; his scintillating reader’s guide to the mysteries of Finnegans Wake and his celebrated exploration of the nature of creativity through the figure of Sophocles’ wounded hero Philoctetes.

Classics and Commercials (1950) is Wilson’s gathering of the best of his reviews from the 1940s, a collection that exemplifies the range and omnivorousness of his interests. In the exact and fluent prose that makes him an unfailing delight to read, Wilson takes on everything from Gogol and Tolstoy to contemporaries like James M. Cain, Katherine Anne Porter, Dorothy Parker, and William Faulkner. Whether registering his qualms about detective novels, parsing the etiquette manuals of Emily Post, or paying tribute to the comic genius of Evelyn Waugh, Wilson turns any critical occasion into the highest kind of pleasure.

The volume is completed with a selection of uncollected reviews from this period, including Wilson’s observations on the work of William Maxwell, Saul Bellow, and Anaïs Nin.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
Book 1
With this inaugural volume of what will be a series devoted to Edmund Wilson’s work, The Library of America pays tribute to the writer who first conceived the idea of a publishing series dedicated to “bringing out in a complete and compact form the principal American classics.” Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s and 30s presents Wilson in the extraordinary first phase of his career, participating in a cultural renaissance and grappling with the crucial issues of his era.

The Shores of Light (1952) is Wilson’s magisterial assemblage of early reviews, sketches, stories, memoirs, and other writings into a teeming panorama of America’s literary life in a period of exuberant expansion and in the years of political and economic strife that followed. Wilson traces the emergence of a new American writing as he reviews the work of Ernest Hemingway, Wallace Stevens, E. E. Cummings, John Dos Passos, Thornton Wilder, and many others, including his close friends F. Scott Fitzgerald and Edna St. Vincent Millay. Little escapes his notice: burlesque shows and Henry James, Soviet theater and the magic of Harry Houdini, the first novels of Malraux and the rediscovery of Edgar Allan Poe. 

Axel’s Castle (1931), his pioneering overview of literary modernism, includes penetrating studies of Yeats, Eliot, Proust, Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and others. For several generations this book has stood as an indispensable companion to some of the crucial turning points in modern literature. Both these classic works display abundantly Wilson’s extraordinary erudition and unquenchable curiosity, his visionary grasp of larger historical meanings, his gift for acute psychological portraiture, and the matchless suppleness and lucidity of his prose. For Wilson, there are no minor subjects; every literary occasion sparks writing that is witty, energetic, and alive to the undercurrents of his time.

In addition this volume includes a number of uncollected reviews from the same period, including discussions of H. L. Mencken, Edith Wharton, and Bernard Shaw.

LIBRARY OF AMERICA is an independent nonprofit cultural organization founded in 1979 to preserve our nation’s literary heritage by publishing, and keeping permanently in print, America’s best and most significant writing. The Library of America series includes more than 300 volumes to date, authoritative editions that average 1,000 pages in length, feature cloth covers, sewn bindings, and ribbon markers, and are printed on premium acid-free paper that will last for centuries.
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