Disintinguished literary critic Edmund Wilson's extraordinary record comes to a fitting culmination in The Sixties, the last of his posthumously published journals, a personal history that is also a brilliant social comedy and an anatomy of our times.
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The last of Wilson's five volumes of journals is as entertaining and full of gossipy detail as the first four (The Fifties, 1986, etc.)--and together they form an amazing literary document of the first half of the century. A cosmopolitan intellectual, Wilson knew most of the great cultural figures of his time. The journals are a record of his travels, a compendium of personalities, and a chronicle of his sexual history. Wilson examines himself in depth but is never self- absorbed or particularly mean-spirited. The names tumble across the page: In New York, Wilson hobnobs with Stravinsky, Auden, Kenneth Tynan, and Virgil Thomson, as well as with younger friends Mike Nichols, Jason Epstein, and Penelope Gilliat. In Cambridge, Massachusetts, he socializes with Isaiah Berlin, Arthur Schlesinger, Robert Lowell, and Stuart Hughes; in Wellfleet, he parties with survivors of Cape Cod's bohemian heyday; and in his ancestral home in Talcottville, New York, he displays as much interest in local friends as in his more famous pals. During the 60's, Wilson traveled extensively, and, here, he takes notes in Canada (for his study, O Canada); in Hungary (for his interest in the language); in Israel (for writings on the Dead Sea Scrolls); and in England, France, and Italy (for enjoyment). A self-described ``man of the twenties,'' he nevertheless is sensitive to ``nuclear age jitters'' and opposes the war in Vietnam. Throughout, he worries about his declining health and failing libido, but he adjusts to old age gracefully, maintaining his lifelong interest in magic and puppetry. Children bring out his best, while stupid people feed his misanthropy. Not only are the extended profiles indelible--a manic Robert Lowell; a dazzlingly witty Elaine May-- but the short-takes are unforgettable as well. Paddy Chayefsky is ``cheap, conceited, and vulgar''; Tom Wolfe is a ``smart-aleck jellybean''; and Susan Sontag is ``pretentious.'' Candor and intelligence come through on every page--in this always absorbing journal by perhaps the last great man of American letters. (Photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
This fifth and final installment of Wilson's journal is at once curiously detached from the 1960s (JFK's assassination gets a single bitter paragraph) and a barometer of that decade's convulsions and of the unraveling of the social fabric. Riddled with passages of great beauty and self-revelation, this hectic daybook is the most wide-ranging of Wilson's journals, covering his movements from his old stone house in upstate New York to teaching at Harvard to New York City, as well as trips to Canada, Hungary, Paris, London, Israel, Jordan. A vast humming collage, the diary is full of encounters with the likes of Stravinsky, Auden, Anais Nin, James Baldwin, George Kennan and Andre Malraux. Wilson, who died in 1972 at age 77, unveils his fulfilling relationship with fourth wife Elena Thornton and documents the emotional collapse of his daughter Rosalind, who had been raised by Wilson's mother. Dabney, who edited The Portable Edmund Wilson , has provided a useful introduction and more than 140 section headings that lend coherence to Wilson's musing on literature, politics and the intellectual scene.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Noonday Pr, 1994. Paperback. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # M0374524149
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