Books: History and Hope

TO THE FINLAND STATION by EDMUND WILSON 590 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

$15.

On native ground Edmund Wilson, who died early this summer (TIME, June 26), was America's most distinguished critic. But he was also an international Man of Letters who fluently pursued learning in seven alien tongues, bringing it back alive for cultivated U.S. readers in serviceably patrician English prose. Wilson's aim, or one of them, was to create "a history of man's ideas and imagining" set against the conditions that shaped both the ideas and the men. Of all his literary...