Lionel Trilling and the Fate of Cultural Criticism
Imprint: Northwestern University Press
216 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: October 2018
Lionel Trilling was one of the twentieth century's most widely read and influential American literary critics. Mark Krupnick traces Trilling’s career from the 1920s through the 1970s, following the shifting intellectual and ideological currents in his thought. Krupnick places Trilling’s criticism and fiction in the context of his New York intellectual group, illuminating the connection between Trilling’s preoccupation with self-definition and his struggle to achieve a cultural overview in a period marked by contradictions, polarizations, and reversals. He provides not only the best single assessment of Trilling but also an incisive history of American literary criticism through the mid-twentieth century.
"Krupnick uses both Trilling's life and his fiction with great tact to illuminate his critical project, and shows how his essays too can be related to his personal myth, indeed just how autobiographical they are... Besides using Trilling's life and fiction well, Krupnick brings to bear a very thorough knowledge of the cultural milieu of New York intellectuals, which is something very essential for a writer on Trilling, since he interacted continuously with the people and issues that figured in that world... This book should take its place as the best book available on its subject." —Morris Dickstein
"I don't know any writer who has sorted out the tortuous and elusive phases of Lionel Trilling's critical career as clearly, and with as much sympathetic-critical penetration, as Mark Krupnick has in this book. But his book is not just a study of one critic; it is a reminder that literary criticism, before it became an academic 'field,' aspired to be a comprehensive criticism of culture—and that it might aspire to be that again." —Gerald Graff