Literature: Mr. Wilson's War

American literature has long been the scene of wordy battles between scholars and critics. The scholars are basically interested in establishing accurate texts, the critics in plumbing nuances of characterization, plot and symbol. The critics sometimes decry the scholars as pedants with bibliomania, while the scholars dismiss the critics as dilettantes with an unprofessional lack of interest in discovering what an author really wrote. In a pair of scathing articles for the New York Review of Books, Critic Edmund Wilson recently added his eminent voice to the quarrel. He suggested that a number of leading literary experts are now...

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