Despite the title, the political message of this book is mostly hinted at. Trilling refrains from all partisan politics. For me, the value lay more in contemplating possible connections between literature and politics than in any definite conclusions on the matter. And it is a subject worth considering.
Discusses the essay `Wordsworth and the Rabbis,' by Lionel Trilling. Argument that Trilling's essay concerns the mutual nontranslatability of cultures.
Lionel trilling essays about life - sportshome
As you read the story “Of This Time, Of That Place,” by Lionel Trilling you realize that Joseph Howe has a lot of annoyances to deal with. A negative criticism of his poetry by Frederic Woolley makes him tense and defensive around others that he knows have read the article. He has to deal with Tertan the strange student who is later diagnosed with a mental illness and Blackburn who sets off Howe’s irritations almost every time they meet. Soon you’ll understand how irritable of a person Howe is.
These essays are very loosely gathered, but there are some faint connections of a main idea, which is how literature reflects social and political contexts. His focus is on the American traditions of 'liberalism' - that is, the New Deal belief in genuine social progress. Trilling warns against the limitations of political analysis of literature, saying that this ignores the classical liberal belief of individuality and reason, and that any politically motivated reading of literature would flatten out or ignore the greater nuances within the text. Trilling's own criticism, though he realizes the political contexts of books, lies with the British Romantics and Matthew Arnold.Trilling is also dismissive of conservative intellectual tradition, saying that it does not really exist at all, and that it only forms caricatures of ideas. This is baffling. Even if we dismiss the hideous growls of political demagogues since the early Cold War, there is still some conservative intellectual tradition remaining in T. S. Eliot, C. S. Lewis, or take an extreme example, Ezra Pound. It is curious about weary ambivalence for political aims, but his continual emphasis on how ideas and moderation matter. Literature is a necessary point in this battleground of ideas, on how it can help us explore the psychology and souls of humankind.And lastly we come to her undying conviction that Lionel could have been a major novelist if only—if only the times had been different, if only he hadn’t needed to make a living, if only publishers and editors had been more encouraging. This claim, on the face of it, is absurd. Lionel Trilling longed to be a novelist because for him, as for every artist and intellectual of his generation, the very definition of a writer was one who wrote fiction successfully. But the fact of the matter was that he could never put felt life on the page. End of major-novelist story. Not, however, for Diana.Writing with acute intelligence about classics like and the novels of Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also on such varied matters as the Kinsey Report and money in the American imagination, Trilling presents a model of the critic as both part of and apart from his society, a defender of the reflective life that, in our ever more rationalized world, seems ever more necessary—and ever more remote.