Wilson attended Princeton University and knew F. Scott Fitzgerald. He was instrumental in editing and publishing THE CRACK-UP after Fitzgerald's death, which served to resurrect his fading literary reputation. Nicknamed "Bunny" throughout his life, Wilson's fascination with the Jazz Age was reflected in his novel I THOUGHT OF DAISY, and several plays and stories. MEMOIRS OF HECATE COUNTY, a collection of stories, was banned for obscenity. Wilson, who wanted to be known as novelist, became one of America's greatest social and literary critics. His study of the symbolists and their influence, AXEL'S CASTLE, has remained influential. He wrote for a variety of magazines, including Vanity Fair, the New Republic, and The New Yorker. Wilson was married several times. His second wife died in an accidental fall. His third wife, the novelist Mary McCarthy, left him after a tumultuous marriage and exacted revenge on him by writing about him in her novels. Although influenced by Marx, Wilson never joined the Communist Party. In the '30s, Wilson traveled across America, paying attention to the struggles of miners and other laborers. The result was THE AMERICAN EARTHQUAKE. He traveled to Russia and spent over a year there for his history, TO THE FINLAND STATION (1940). A lover of languages, Wilson would undertake the learning of a language when he deemed it necessary to one of his major projects. He learned Hebrew in order to research and write a long piece for The New Yorker, which was to become ISRAEL AND THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS. In the '60s, the Internal Revenue Service penalized Wilson for failure to pay taxes. After that, he published THE COLD WAR AND THE INCOME TAX. Wilson had a lifelong friendship with Vladimir Nabokov, which was severely strained when Wilson had the temerity to challenge Nabokov's translation of EUGENE ONEGIN. Throughout his life Wilson kept journals, which were edited and published posthumously in several volumes. Wilson had one hobby throughout his life: an interest in magic tricks.
"TO THE FINLAND STATION, a work of the historical imagination at its most creative, puts us in touch with the revolutionary dreams and visions of our past. If we read it well, we can use it to teach ourselves how to keep the dreams alive in the present and maybe even in the future, how to make the visions real. It can help us learn to create ourselves."
"...considered as a single piece of writing FINLAND STATION is certainly the strongest of [Wilson's] works. Even now it remains the greatest study of Marxism ever written in the United States, from a literary point of view."
"Every so often, you come across a book of nonfiction that is more gripping in its plot and richer in its understanding of human beings than a thousand novels put together. One such book is Edmund Wilson's TO THE FINLAND STATION....[It] is, ultimately, a celebration of the power of ideas. I find in this book a sense of religious awe at the mystery of human ideas..."