He May Have Been a Man of Letters, but He Was Only Flesh and Blood
Posted by: Keir Graff
To mark the occasion of Edmund Wilson’s induction to the Library of America, “that clothbound hall of literary fame,” Charles McGrath offers a fascinating profile of “the most functional alcoholic in all of American letters.” From the New York Times (“A Shaper of the Canon Gets His Place in It“):
Some of his most thrilling stuff, though, is the literary journalism he did for Vanity Fair and The New Republic. Wilson was just a young man then, barely out of Princeton, with a couple of years’ seasoning as a medic in World War I, and he seemingly took every assignment that came his way. He wrote about burlesque shows, for example, judging that the Minsky Brothers Follies was superior to Ziegfeld’s because the girls had bigger breasts and shapelier legs, and he wrote more than once about Houdini, whom he admired as "an audacious and independent being, whose career showed a rare integrity."
I’ll never think of Wilson the same way again.