Edmund Wilson’s Refusal Card

The great American literary critic Edmund Wilson, of whom I have long been an great admirer, was famous for his refusal card, which I’ve reprinted here. At some point, I’ll rewrite this for public school teachers. Is there anything or anyone in particular to which or whom you would like to say no?

“Edmund Wilson regrets that it is impossible for him without compensation to:

read manuscripts

contribute to books or periodicals

do editorial work

judge literary contests

deliver lectures

address meetings

make after-dinner speeches


Under any circumstances to:

contribute to or take part in symposiums

take part in chain-poems or other collective compositions

contribute manuscripts for sales

donate copies of his books to libraries

autograph books for strangers

supply personal information about himself

supply photographs of himself

allow his name to be used on letter-heads

receive unknown persons who have no apparent business with him.”

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