Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s and 30s: "The Shores of Light," "Axel's Castle," Uncollected Reviews

In This Review

Literary Essays and Reviews of the 1920s and 30s: "The Shores of Light," "Axel's Castle," Uncollected Reviews

By Edmund Wilson Edited by Lewis Dabney
Library of America, 2007
958 pp. $40.00
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The invaluable Library of America continues its great work with the publication of a new volume of collected essays by Wilson. U.S. policymakers and academic students of international relations are too often unfamiliar with the culture and literature of their own country, to say nothing of that of the other countries with which they must deal. Wilson's work stands as a lasting example of the contributions that a literary education and sensibility can bring to the understanding of nations and their affairs. In Patriotic Gore, he analyzed the consequences of the Civil War in American life, and therefore in American politics, with rare intelligence; To the Finland Station offered Americans an extraordinary introduction to the mental world of communism and therefore a vital preparation for Americans coming to grips with the Cold War; Axel's Castle (reprinted in this book) introduced a generation of Americans to literary modernism and to the concepts and culture that helped shape the twentieth century, and it traced the flow of ideas and influence back and forth across the Atlantic. To read Wilson is to encounter the ideas and texts that helped define the sensibilities and worldviews of two generations of the American elite.