“In the best tradition of literary criticism… combines exact information with shrewd and searching penetration into the personal life of the artist.”
The New York Times
“The greatest literary critic of the twentieth century.”
New York magazine
The Wound and the Bow collects seven wonderful essays on the delicate theme of the relation between art and suffering by the legendary literary and social critic, Edmund Wilson (1885–1972). This welcome re-issue—one of several for this title—testifies to the value publishers put on it and to a reluctance among them ever to let it stay out of print for very long.
The subjects Wilson treats—Dickens and Kipling, Edith Wharton and Ernest Hemingway, Joyce and Sophocles, and perhaps most surprising, Jacques Casanova—reveal the range and dexterity of his interests, his historical grasp, his learning, and his intellectual curiosity.
Wilson’s essays did not give rise to a new body of literary theory nor to a new school of literary criticism. Rather, he animated or reanimated the reputations of the artists he treated and furthered the quest for the sources of their literary artistry and craftsmanship.
F. Scott Fitzgerald called Wilson “the literary conscience of my generation.” Today’s readers of The Wound and the Bow may want to make the claim for their generation as well.
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John Updike has won a National Book Award and has earned both critical and popular acclaim. At the moment, his reputation rests largely on his novels, especially Rabbit, Run; The Centaur; Of the Farm; and The Coup. Of his many books, more than half are volumes of poems, stories, essays and reviews, and one play, yet the numerous critical books on Updike concentrate primarily on his long fiction with the result that over one half of his canon is often ignored.
Yvor Winters has here collected, with an introduction, the major critical works—Primitivism and Decadence, Maule’s Curse, and The Anatomy of Nonsense—of the period in which he worked out his famous and influential critical position. The works together show an integrated position which illuminates the force and importance of the individual essays. With The Function of Criticism, a subsequent collection, In Defense of Reason provides an incomparable body of critical writing.
American literary life has been enriched over the past generation by habits of criticism practiced at Amherst College during the tenure of William H. Pritchard. These essays, which were commissioned as a tribute to Pritchard, celebrate his fortieth year at Amherst and demonstrate the breadth of his influence in the fields of theory, criticism, and pedagogy.