"We would rather run ourselves down than not speak of ourselves at all."
When the reputable and talented die, it is often their fate to have their privacy examined in detail. This is a mixed blessing at best. How chilling it is to remember that Nijinski's feet were cut open to see if the bones were somehow special. There must be some clue, we think, to the mystery of fame.
The Fifties, again edited by Leon Edel, is the fourth volume of Edmund Wilson's notebooks to be published, and the most tedious to date, It contains seemingly endless family data (six pages on the stealing of a Boston Rocker), gossip, comments on his relatives and his wife's relatives, various and sundry opinions, and (though now less so) the temperature of his sexual relations. I think it time to call a halt. Wilson himself edited, in part, The Twenties, about which he said that he didn't want to publish inferior material. His wish has not been heeded. At the beginning of this inflated enterprise, expectations were high. In a brief memoir in the Times Literary Supplement, Harry Levin said that he had thought the American counterpart of the Goncourts would be forthcoming but was saddened by what he found, even in The Twenties, the best of the lot. The 41 copybooks (some 2,000 manuscript pages), it appears, will not constitute...