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.
This collection features 32 of Trilling s essays on a range of topics, from Jane Austen to George Orwell and from the Kinsey Report to "Lolita." Also included are Trilling s 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 Trilling s 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, Trilling s 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 Trilling s challenging work still yields rewards today, his ideas speaking to issues that transcend decades and even centuries."