The Princess with the Golden Hair: Letters of Elizabeth Waugh to Edmund Wilson, 1933-1942

The Princess with the Golden Hair: Letters of Elizabeth Waugh to Edmund Wilson, 1933-1942

The Princess with the Golden Hair: Letters of Elizabeth Waugh to Edmund Wilson, 1933-1942

The Princess with the Golden Hair: Letters of Elizabeth Waugh to Edmund Wilson, 1933-1942

Synopsis

"The friendship between Elizabeth Waugh and the influential literary critic and novelist Edmund Wilson developed in the early 1930s and lasted until Waugh's death in 1944. Despite the cultural differences between them - Waugh as a self-educated and emotional visual artist and Wilson an analytical and learned critic with a historical bent - they developed a bond that was close if often troubled." "The present volume contains eighty-eight letters from Waugh to Wilson, plus several from him to her and to her mother after her death. Their correspondence - now at Yale University - is presented here with meticulously detailed annotation of persons and events referred to in the letters, providing a provocative look into the private thoughts of these two representative figures from the artistic and literary worlds of the later 1930s. These letters, read against the portrayal of the fictional Imogen Loomis, offer fascinating insights into the process of artistic creation in the novel; taken with the biographical Introduction and Afterword, they can shed light on many of the problems faced by literary and artistic women of the upper middle class during the depression era." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

In 1946, Edmund Wilson (1895–1972) published Memoirs of Hecate County, loosely organized sketches set early in the Depression years. At the book’s center was a novella, comprising roughly half of the text, called “The Princess with the Golden Hair,” which described an unnamed narrator’s passion for the “Princess,” Imogen Loomis. the recent reissue of this book by Farrar, Straus, with a rather sensational cover photograph of a woman in a bustiergarter belt and an afterword on sex by John Updike, seems intended to exploit the work’s original impact on an audience unused to Wilson’s frank and detailed, even clinical description of sexual activity among the suburban upper classes during the first decades of Post-Modernism. For us, however, mhc has remained haunting and uniquely accessible as an historical and psychological document. Its detailed records of the cadences of smart speech, of the coming of popular book clubs, cocktail shakers, and stockbroker Tudor, as well as the nuances of exultation and disappointment in romantic passion, place it with the works of Mansfield and Fitzgerald as records of an era’s emotional life.

Imogen Loomis’s physical appearance and her relationship to the narrator were closely modeled on Elizabeth Dey Jenkinson Waugh, 1894–1944, who wrote between 1933 and 1942 the series of letters to Edmund Wilson which are reproduced in the present volume. These letters record a lengthy—if troubled and intermittent—friendship between a couple who remained in nearly daily contact in New York City and Connecticut during winters in the halcyon years of multiple mail deliveries and cheap telegraph and telephone service, and as neighbors in the hermetic world of Provincetown in the summer. Thus, these letters are necessarily elliptical and often allude to conversations—and quarrels—we can only guess at. We have accordingly tried to err on the side of completeness and detail, both in the biographical sketch that follows and in the annotation of the letters themselves.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.