Friday, June 1, 2012

Final Thoughts re. Wilson

So, three more scattered tidbits that might (or might not) be worth sharing.

(1) Wilson thought so highly of his attack on Tolkien ("Oo Those Awful Orcs") that he sent a copy to Cabell, asking his opinion of Tolkien's book. [EW to JBC, Apr 12 1956; LETTERS ON LITERATURE AND POLITICS, p. 542-543]. There's no record of Cabell's response (I even once asked Leon Edel to help me find if there was one, but to no avail), other than that Wilson found it "a delightful surprise" [EW to JBC, May 16th 1956; ibid p. 543].

(2) There's no record, so far as I know, of Wilson's ever having read C. S. Lewis (I suspect he wdn't have considered any of CSL's fiction "literature"*), but as an equal-opportunity insulter, he did once make a passing slap at Charles Williams, in the poem "The Mass in the Parking Lot"

. . . And whom should we meet there, on the loose,
But Andre Gide in a big burnoose.
What were his words of wisdom? Damn it,
He was whooping it up for Dashiell Hammett.
More correctly garbed, we encountered later
T. S. Eliot, the Great Dictator.
Having just awakened from troubled sleep,
He told us Charles Williams was terribly deep.
And Wystan Auden, with rigorous views
But his necktie hanging around his shoes,
Expounded his taste for detective stories,
Which he reads to illumine the current mores . . .

[NIGHT THOUGHTS, 1961, p. 181]

(3) Finally, yesterday I found out that Edmund Wilson's son with Mary McCarthy was named . . . Reuel Wilson.
Can't make this stuff up.


*what with the trilogy being science fiction, and the Narnia books children's books. TILL WE HAVE FACES might have interested him, but that book of Lewis's didn't do v. well and there's no reason to think Wilson ever heard of its existence. Plus, of course, Wilson disliked Xianity, and CSL's apostlizing was the single best-known thing about him.

1 comment:

JL said...

"Can't make this stuff up" -- Indeed!
Too bad we don't know about JBC's reply. Haven't read anything about his (dis)like of Tolkien, either.

"Till We Have Faces" is a wonderful novel that IMO deserves a much wider audience.