Synopses & Reviews
With this re-publication of Lionel Trilling's finest essays, Leon Wieseltier offers readers of many generations, a rich overview of Trilling's achievement. The exhilarating essays collected here include justly celebrated masterpieces - on Mansfield Park and on Why We Read Jane Austen; on Twain, Dos Passos, Hemingway, Isaac Babel; on Keats, Wordsworth, Eliot, Frost; on Art and Neurosis; and the famous Preface to Trilling's book The Liberal Imagination,
Bringing together the thoughts of one of American literatures sharpest cultural critics, this compendium will open the eyes of a whole new audience to the work of Lionel Trilling. Trilling was a strenuous thinker who was proud to think too much.” As an intellectual he did not spare his own kind, and though he did not consider himself a rationalist, he was grounded in the world.
This collection features 32 of Trillings essays on a range of topics, from Jane Austen to George Orwell and from the Kinsey Report to Lolita. Also included are Trillings seminal essays Art and Neurosis” and Manners, Morals, and the Novel.” Many of the pieces made their initial appearances in periodicals such as The Partisan Review and Commentary; most were later reprinted in essay collections. This new gathering of his writings demonstrates again Trillings patient, thorough style. Considering the problems of life”in art, literature, culture, and intellectual lifewas, to him, a vital occupation, even if he did not expect to get anything as simple or encouraging as answers.” The intellectual journey was the true goal.
No matter the subject, Trillings arguments come together easily, as if constructing complicated defenses and attacks were singularly simple for his well-honed mind. The more he wrote on a subject and the more intricate his reasoning, the more clear that subject became; his elaboration is all function and no filler. Wrestling with Trillings challenging work still yields rewards today, his ideas speaking to issues that transcend decades and even centuries.
Bringing together the thoughts of one of American literature’s sharpest cultural critics, this compendium will open the eyes of a whole new audience to the work of Lionel Trilling. Trilling was a strenuous thinker who was proud to think “too much.” As an intellectual he did not spare his own kind, and though he did not consider himself a rationalist, he was grounded in the world.
About the Author
Lionel Trilling (190575) is the author of the collections Beyond Culture, The Liberal Imagination, and the posthumously published Speaking of Literature and Society. He was a professor at Columbia University.
Leon Wieseltier is the editor of The New Republic and lives in New York City.
Table of Contents
Introduction by Leon Wieseltier
The America of John Dos Passos
Hemingway and his Critics
T. S. Eliot's Politics
The Immortality Ode
Reality in America
Art and Neurosis
Manners, Morals, and the Novel
The Kinsey Report
The Princess Casamassima
Wrdsworth and the Rabbis
William Dean Howells and the Roots of Modern Taste
The Poet as Hero: Keats in His Letters
George Orwell and the Politics of Truth
The Situation of the American Intellectual at the Present Time
The Morality of Inertia
"That Smile of Parmenides Made Me Think"
The Last Lover
A Speech on Robert Frost: A Cultural Episode
On the Teaching of Modern Literature
The Leavis-Snow Controversy
The Fate of Pleasure
James Joyce in His Letters
Mind in the Modern World
Art, Will, and Necessity
Why We Read Jane Austen
Preface to The Liberal Imagination
Preface to Beyond Culture