Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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October 06, 2008
Edmund Wilson at the Aspen Institute

On June 12, 1968, upon Wilson's receipt of his $30,000 award, he stood at the podium and said:
And I am immenseley gratified that not a penny of the money this institute is awarding me will have to be contributed to the $8-9 billion which are going for this disgraceful war.

Wilson's journal volume The Sixties reproduces a clipped-&-saved NYT article that reported the above.

His entry about the event contains a sour, deadpan and hilarious description of the awards ceremony:
Aspen Award. . . . black tie, Waldorf-astoria, eight o'clock. . . . The 'small dinner' turned out to consist of forty-eight people. . . . They were predominantly big executives and oil millionaires.

Stevenson's wife, on my right, was a stupid and aggressive bore. She began by saying, 'You wrote Finlandia, didn't you?'

I said, 'No: that was written by a Finn.'

TiR's (as always, pointless) research concludes that "Stevenson" here would have been then-president of the institute and former president of Oberlin. His wife was author Eleanor Bumstead Stevenson.

The quite interesting Project 1968 "blog docu-novel" provides a nice encapsulation of some of the world and war-related events in the days that preceded the awards ceremony. Wilson's journals make no bones about his physical deterioration during those years, which could not have helped his mood.


The journal tome was TiR's goodbye purchase, several weeks ago, prior to the closing/relocation of a used bookstore, during a month that also saw the closings of a another great used bookstore branch in the same city and probably that city's most perfect newsstand. All in all there: an intensely crappy month for the printed word.