Classics and Commercials


A LITERARY CHRONICLE OF THE FORTIES BY EDMUND WILSON CONTENTS Archibald MacLeish and the Word 3 Van Wyck Brooks's Second Phase 10 The Boys in the Back Room 19 1. JAMES M. CAIN 2. JOHN O'HARA 3. WILLIAM SAROYAN 4. HANS OTTO STORM 5. JOHN STEINBECK 6. FACING THE PACIFIC POSTSCRIPT Max Eastman in 1941 57 T. K. Whipple 70 The Antrobuses and the Earwickers 81 Alexander Woollcott of the Phalanx 87 The Poetry of Angelica Balabanoff 94 Mr. Joseph E. Davies as a Stylist 98 Thoughts on Being Bibliographed 105 Through the Embassy Window: Harold Nicolson 121 Kay Boyle and the Saturday Evening Post 128 The Life and Times of John Barrymore 133 Never Apologize, Never Explain: The Art of Evelyn Waugh 140 John Mulholland and the Art of Illusion 147 What Became of Louis Bromfield 153 Vi CONTENTS A Toast and a Tear for Dorothy Parker 168 A Treatise on Tales of Honor 172 A Guide to Finnegans Wake 182 A Novel by Salvador Dali 190 A Long Talk about Jane Austen 196 You Can't Do This to Me! Shrilled Celia 204 Aldous Huxley in the World Beyond Time 209 Vladimir Nabokov on Gogol 215 Katherine Anne Porter 219 A Picture to Hang in the Library: Brooks's Age of Irving 224 Why Do People Read Detective Stories? 231 Bernard Shaw on the Training of a Statesman 238 Reexamining Dr. Johnson 244 Leonid Leonov: The Sophistication of a Formula 250 Who Cares Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? 257 Mr, Holmes, They Were The Footprints of a Gigantic Hound! 266 Glenway Wescott's War Work 275 A Cry from the Unquiet Grave 280 Tales of the Marvellous and the Ridiculous 286 Thackeray's Letters: A Victorian Document 291 Splendors and Miseries of Evelyn Waugh 298 George Saintsbuiy's Centenary 306 Ambushing a Best-Seller 311 The Apotheosis of Somerset Maugham 319 William Saroyan and His Darling Old Providence 327 Oscar Wilde: One Must Always Seek What Is Most Tragic 331 George Grosz in the United States 343 An Old Friend of the Family: Thackeray 348 Gilbert Without Sullivan 359 George Saintsbury: Gourmet and Glutton 366 Books of Etiquette and Emily Post 372 CONTENTS Vll A Dissenting Opinion on Kafka 383 Jean-Paul Sartre: The Novelist and the Existentialist 393 The Musical Glasses of Peacock 404 Edith Wharton: A Memoir by an English Friend 412 The Sanctity of Baudelaire 419 Van Wyck Brooks on the Civil War Period 42,3 An Analysis of Max Beerbohm 431 The Original of Tolstoy's Natasha 442, The Most Unhappy Man on Earth 453 William Faulkner's Reply to the Civil-Rights Program 460 In Memory of Octave Mirbeau 471 A Revival of Ronald Firbank 486 Paul Rosenfeld: Three Phases 503 Index 521 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS THIS BOOK contains a selection of my literary articles written during the nineteen-forties. All of them have been revised and some of them considerably rewritten. A few have been brought up to date with postscripts. With the exception of the memoir of Rosenfeld and some of the notes on Connolly and Waugh, they are presented in chronological order. The dates in most cases are those of their first appearance in print; but to T. K. Whvpyle, Thoughts on Being Blbliographed and Paul Rosenfeld: Three Phases I have assigned the dates when they were written. From the article on Harold Nicolson through the article on Ronald Firbank, all the pieces originally ap peared in the New Yorker. Archibald MacLeish and the Word, Van Wyck Brooks' s Second Phase and Max East man in 1941 were first printed in the New Republic; The Antrobuses and the E

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