Classics and Commercials: A Literary Chronicle of the Forties

By Edmund Wilson | Go to book overview

THOUGHTS ON BEING BIBLIOGRAPHED*

THERE HAS come a sort of break in the literary movement that was beginning to feel its first strength in the years 1912-16, at the time I was in college at Princeton: the movement on which I grew up and with which I afterwards worked. The first prophets of that movement are patriarchs now--classics or pseudo-classics. Of the writers in their late forties or their fifties, some go on rather somniferously bringing out just the same kind of books that they were writing with more energy twenty years ago; and others, who have practised an intenser art and seemed to promise self-renewal, are in a state of suspended animation. Two of the best of our poets of fiction, Sherwood Anderson and F. Scott Fitzgerald, have died prematurely, depriving us of a freshening and an exhilarating influence that had been felt by us as principles of life, and leaving a sad sense of work uncompleted (though Anderson was in his sixties, it was impossible to think of him as aging, and though he had published a score of books, he seemed always still making his way toward some further self-realization). Certain others of our top rank of writers have disconcertingly abandoned their own standards and published work so outrageously awful that it suggests premature

____________________
*
Written for the Princeton University Library Chronicle of February, 1944, in which a bibliography of my work appeared.

-105-

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