Books: After-Dinner Poetry

NIGHT THOUGHTS (282 pp.)—Edmund Wilson—Farrar, Sfraus ($4.50).

Of all the writers in America today, Edmund Wilson is probably the most versatile and certainly the most cosmopolitan. When Doctor Zhivago appears, he points out where the translators betrayed the Russian original. When the Dead Sea Scrolls are published, he learns Hebrew, the better to assess their value. Wilson is a man of letters at home, it would seem, in all civilizations, and the U.S.'s only critic committed to nothing but his good taste.

Flexibility and detachment make the true strength of a critic. But in a poet, or at least all but the greatest,...

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