Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honor of Lionel Trilling

Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honor of Lionel Trilling

Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honor of Lionel Trilling

Art, Politics, and Will: Essays in Honor of Lionel Trilling

Excerpt

This volume was projected, and the contributors asked to undertake their work before Lionel Trilling's death on November 5, 1975, when it perforce became a memorial volume. This led the editors to include two brief essays on the work of the man we seek to honor. Our title refers to central, although not exclusive, preoccupations in the work of Lionel Trilling, preoccupations which the friends and admirers who have contributed to this book welcomed in him, and, in various ways and degrees, share themselves. Trilling found art, politics, and will inextricably related; he could not conceive of an art without political meaning, or an art which did not display will in all its energy and complexity of intention.

The occasion of this volume is not that of praise for the achievements of a specialist; to celebrate Lionel Trilling's work is not to advance any cause narrower than that of the cultivated literary and social intelligence addressed to the most generous conception of individual and social ends. Responsive as he was to the work of Freud, that fact no more defines him than does his allegiance to liberal democracy or his devotion to Wordsworth and Keats. If there is a characteristic mode of inquiry in his writing, it might be phrased: What, given the cultural situation with all its stresses, gaps, unarticulated oppositions, current shibboleths, are the appropriate objects of our attention at this moment? Among the foci he found revealing were the cultural fate of certain words, the shifts and permutations within a particular period of the significance attributed to certain books, poems, writers, social causes, human qualities, and—as in the . . .

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