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Upstate: Records and Recollections of Northern New York
'Upstate', Edmund Wilson's history and memories of twenty years in the Old Stone Huse in Talcottville, New York, was perhaps his most warmly received book. It is an account of a region and its people, a social and personal history that seems sure to become a classic, worthy of the extraordinary praise it received.
Paperback, 4th edition, 386 pages
Published 1974 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
(first published 1971)
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It gets going with a few chapters on the history of Wilson's maternal ancestors, the Talcotts, and their eponymous hamlet just west of the Adirondacks, just east of the Burned-over District. These chapters include a fascinating meditation on outre sects that found a footing upstate in the 19th Century (note: these bizarre New York-origin faiths include the Shakers, Millerites, and Mormons--the Empire State has a lot to answer for, I know). The bulk of the book consists of edited diary entries fr ...more
I read this book because of an interest in Talcottville, which has only been partially satisfied. The jounral entries during the time Wilson spent in Talcottville reveal lots about the NNY culture as well as his literary and intellectual circles.
Edmund Wilson was an American writer and literary and social critic. He is considered by many to have been the 20th century's preeminent American man of letters.More about Edmund Wilson...
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“Dan, who was writing a book on the radical activity of the twenties and thirties, took the occasion of our trip to ask me about them. The whole thing seems to me so stale that I can't imagine anybody's now wanting to write about it, but we ran over the personalities and I told him a lot of stories. It seemed to me like that grisly museum of the early 1900's that I had had him visit at Niagara Falls: old stuffed two-headed calves, motheaten panthers attacking a stag, dried-up corpses from Indian graves, big bags made of rubber tires in which people had tried to shoot the falls--and around it all-powerful industrial life that no show of resistance could stop, which had ruined the landscape of the river and was crowding out everything else. ”More quotes…