The Info List - Leon Edel

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Joseph Leon Edel
Leon Edel
(9 September 1907 – 5 September 1997) was a North American literary critic and biographer. He was the elder brother of North American philosopher Abraham Edel.[1][2] The Encyclopædia Britannica
Encyclopædia Britannica
calls Edel "the foremost 20th-century authority on the life and works of Henry James."[3] His work on James won him both a National Book Award and a Pulitzer Prize.[4]


1 Life and career 2 Selected bibliography 3 Reviews 4 References 5 External links

Life and career[edit] Edel was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Fannie (Malamud) and Simon Edel.[5] Edel grew up in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. He attended McGill University
McGill University
and the Université de Paris. While at the former he was associated with the Montreal Group of modernist writers, which included F.R. Scott and A.J.M. Smith, and with them founded the influential McGill Fortnightly Review. Edel taught English and American literature at Sir George Williams University
Sir George Williams University
(now Concordia University, 1932–1934), New York University
New York University
(1953–1972),[6] and at University of Hawaii at Manoa
University of Hawaii at Manoa
(1972–1978). For the academic year 1965-1966, he was a Fellow on the faculty at the Center for Advanced Studies of Wesleyan University.[7] Though he wrote on James Joyce
James Joyce
(James Joyce: The Last Journey, 1947) and on the Bloomsbury group, his lifework is summed up in his five-volume biography of Henry James
Henry James
(Henry James: A Biography 1953–1972). Edel discussed the notion of biography in literary biography (1957), in particular his conviction that literary biography should enfold a subjective author's self-perceptions into his output. Edel's second and third volumes of the James biography earned him the 1963 Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography[8] and a National Book Award for Nonfiction[9] in 1963. Edel enjoyed privileged access to letters and documents from James' life housed in the Widener Library at Harvard University, after gaining the blessing of members of James' family. He referred to other scholars who sought access in vain as 'trespassers'.[10] The discovery of impassioned but inconclusive letters written in 1875–1876 by James to the Russian aristocrat Paul Zhukovski, while Edel was deep in the process of finishing his biography caused an ethical crisis; his decision was to continue to ignore what he considered a peripheral aspect of the self- identified "celibate" and sexually diffident James's life. Edel did treat James's relationships with novelist Constance Fenimore Woolson
Constance Fenimore Woolson
and sculptor Hendrik Christian Andersen at length, especially in volumes three and four of the biography. After weighing all the evidence, Edel confessed that he was unable to decide whether James experienced a consummated sexual relationship. Although later scholarship and new materials have called into question the accuracy of his portrait of James,[11][12] Edel's work remains an important source for studies of the author. In October 1996, about a year before Leon Edel
Leon Edel
died, Sheldon M. Novick published Henry James: The Young Master (in 2007 Novick also published Henry James: The Mature Master). Novick's volume "caused something of an uproar in Jamesian circles"[13] as, like other more recent biographies of Walt Whitman and John Singer Sergeant, it challenged the notion, deriving from a once-familiar paradigm in biographies of homosexuals when direct evidence was non-existent, that James lived a celibate life. Novick also criticized Edel for following a discounted Freudian interpretation of homosexuality "as a kind of failure."[14] The difference of views led to a series of exchanges between Edel and Novick that were published by Slate.[15]

'A biography seems irrelevant if it doesn't discover the overlap between what the individual did and the life that made this possible. Without discovering that, you have shapeless happenings and gossip." — Leon Edel

Selected bibliography[edit]

Henry James: The Untried Years 1843–1870 (1953) Henry James: Selected Fiction (Everyman's Library [New American Edition], no. 649A, 1953) Literary Biography (1957) Henry James: The Conquest of London 1870–1881 (1962) ISBN 0-380-39651-3 Henry James: The Middle Years 1882–1895 (1962) ISBN 0-380-39669-6 Henry James: The Treacherous Years 1895–1901 (1969) ISBN 0-380-39677-7 Henry James: The Master 1901–1916 (1972) ISBN 0-380-39677-7 A Bibliography of Henry James: Third Edition (1982) (with Dan Laurence and James Rambeau) ISBN 1-58456-005-3 Henry James
Henry James
Literary Criticism — Essays on Literature, American Writers, English Writers (1984) (editor, with Mark Wilson) ISBN 0-940450-22-4 Henry James
Henry James
Literary Criticism — French Writers, Other European Writers, The Prefaces to the New York Edition (1984) (editor, with Mark Wilson) ISBN 0-940450-23-2 Writing Lives: Principia Biographica (1984) ISBN 0-393-01882-2 The Complete Plays of Henry James
Henry James
(1990) (editor) ISBN 0-19-504379-0 The Visitable Past: A Wartime Memoir (2000) ISBN 0-8248-2431-8


Writing Lives: Principia Biographica - briefly noted in The New Yorker 60/49 (21 January 1985) : 94


^ "Leon Edel". Pabook.libraries.psu.edu. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.  ^ Richard Garnett and Janet Adam Smith (11 September 1997). "Obituary: Professor Leon Edel". The Independent.  ^ "Leon Edel", Encyclopædia Britannica. Britannica Online. Retrieved 2011-03-18. ^ "Leon Edel". InfoPlease.com. Retrieved 2011-03-18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 26 July 2012.  ^ New York Times, Sept. 8, 1997. ^ "Guide to the Center for Advanced Studies Records, 1958 - 1969 Processed by: University Archives staff; machine-readable finding aid created by: Valerie Gillispie &hdrsca; © 2008 Wesleyan University. All Rights Reserved. Machine-readable finding aid derived from XML authoring program. Date of source: June 2008 Description is in English Finding aid was prepared using DACS". Wesleyan.edu. Archived from the original on 14 March 2017. Retrieved 26 July 2012.  ^ "Biography or Autobiography". Past winners and finalists by category. The Pulitzer Prizes. Retrieved 2012-03-19. ^ "National Book Awards – 1963". National Book Foundation. Retrieved 2012-03-19. (With acceptance speech by Edel.) ^ Anesko, Michael "Monopolizing the Master: Henry James
Henry James
and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship", Stanford University Press, 2012, pxiii ^ Anesko, Michael "Monopolizing the Master: Henry James
Henry James
and the Politics of Modern Literary Scholarship", Stanford University Press, 2012 ^ Colm Tóibín: how Henry James's family tried to keep him in the closet, The Guardian, 20 February 2016 [1] ^ Leavitt, David "A Beast In The Jungle", 23 December 2007 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/books/review/Leavitt2-t.html ^ Leavitt, David "A Beast In The Jungle", 23 December 2007 ; https://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/23/books/review/Leavitt2-t.html ^ "Henry James's Love Life" Slate, 19 December 1996; http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/dialogues/features/1996/henry_james_love_life/_2.html

External links[edit]

Leon Edel
Leon Edel
biography at University of Saskatchewan
archives Jeanne McCullough (Winter 1985). "Leon Edel, The Art of Biography No. 1". Paris Review.  Edel responds to the biography detailing James' alleged homosexual attachment: Sheldon M. Novick, Henry James, The Young Master 1996 Novick answers

v t e

Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography
Pulitzer Prize for Biography or Autobiography

Margaret Louise Coit (1951) Merlo J. Pusey (1952) David J. Mays (1953) Charles A. Lindbergh (1954) William S. White (1955) Talbot Faulkner Hamlin (1956) John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
(1957) Douglas S. Freeman, John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth (1958) Arthur Walworth (1959) Samuel Eliot Morison
Samuel Eliot Morison
(1960) David Donald (1961) Leon Edel
Leon Edel
(1963) Walter Jackson Bate
Walter Jackson Bate
(1964) Ernest Samuels (1965) Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr.
(1966) Justin Kaplan (1967) George Frost Kennan (1968) Benjamin Lawrence Reid (1969) Thomas Harry Williams (1970) Lawrence Thompson (1971) Joseph P. Lash
Joseph P. Lash
(1972) W. A. Swanberg (1973) Louis Sheaffer (1974) Robert Caro
Robert Caro

Complete list (1917–1925) (1926–1950) (1951–1975) (1976–2000) (2001–2025)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 108589496 LCCN: n79018725 ISNI: 0000 0001 2147 0480 GND: 12303003X SELIBR: 184439 SUDOC: 028248767 BNF: cb120123704 (data) BIBSYS: 90074656 NDL: 00521