NABOKV-L post 0015700, Sat, 24 Nov 2007 18:06:23 -0500

Writers and politics ...

Online edition of India's National NewspaperSunday, Nov 25, 2007


Writers and politics


Political parties and governments, from the erstwhile Soviet Union to present-day Iraq, have their own brutal agendas. A writer’s duty, ideally, is to the truth.

Photo: AP Spanning the spectrum: Josef Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in 1943.

I have been reading the correspondence of the American polymath Edmund Wilson. Wilson was the most influential literary critic of his day, whose essays and reviews could make or break a writer’s career. He was steeped in American and European l iterature, and taught himself Russian and Hebrew. His range was enormous; he read and wrote about novels, poems, and plays, about history and politics, and about linguistics and philosophy as well. He was a hard-working as well as a hard-drinking man, with an ample waistline to match his well-stocked mind.

Literary historians have written about Wilson’s friendship with such great modern writers as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, and Vladimir Nabokov, all of whom liked and at times feared him. However, this column deals not with his views on language and literature, but with his political beliefs.

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