For half a century, Edmund Wilson played a major role in American letters. He also often acted as the playboy of its cultural and literary elite: Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay, actress Mary Blair, writer Mary McCarthy, poet L onie Adams, and journalist and screenwriter Penelope Gilliatt were among his numerous dalliances. Add Dorothy Parker, Louise Bogan, and Elinor Wylie as his drinking buddies, and it's easy to see why authors David Castronovo and Janet Groth turned a curious eye to the portly critic and his unlikely romantic successes. Each woman he came to know posed an alluring interpretive problem, an erotic or analytic challenge, a presence that fired his imagination. In the able hands of Castronovo and Groth, Wilson's Rabelaisian passions, ardors, and vulnerabilities -- complicated by his ideas about love, sex, and marriage -- become the ingredients of a story quite singular in modern American culture.
David Castronovo is the author of nine books, including Edmund Wilson, a New York Times Notable Book and Critic in Love: A Romantic Biography of Edmund Wilson. He was a professor of English at Pace University.