July 23, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972

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In Season
Edmund Wilson
We gave it an A

If you like political posturing and viscous theoretical prose, you can order a supply from your local university English department. If you have an unfashionable taste for curiosity and lucidity, there’s always Edmund Wilson. The last volume of journals kept by our great critic and man of letters, The Sixties: The Last Journal, 1960-1972, has the same virtues as the four previous decade-long slices: a vast array of interests pursued with bulldog tenacity, blunt assessments of books and of people (ranging from Jackie Kennedy and André Malraux to Wilson’s rural neighbors in Talcottville, N.Y.), and polyglot cosmopolitanism combined with an almost proprietary sense of American history and culture. Mixed in are some rueful reflections on old age — ailments, declining sexual powers, disappearing friends — which tend to eclipse the tumultuous public events of the period, but the book, vigorously irascible and observant to the end, is a measure of the vitality and integrity our literary culture has largely lost. A

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