Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves

By John Rodden | Go to book overview

Note on Annotations

Lionel Trilling was a public intellectual whose work was read in its time by a general audience; this volume aspires to make the critical response to his work and life available to the general reader of today. A collection of critical pieces, however, especially one that includes many book reviews, can pose a difficult challenge of appreciation and even understanding to the nonspecialist reader, a challenge only intensified when its contributions date from an era that has passed. Because critics and reviewers frequently write in a shorthand that assumes contemporaries' knowledge of topics and names of immediate circulation and takes for granted that audiences will recognize the writers, book titles, issues, and other matters that the critics address, much criticism is difficult to appreciate outside of its original context.

Because of this critical shorthand, therefore, many readers, even scholars, interested in Lionel Trilling’s literary reception may not know the writers and writings familiar to Trilling’s contemporaries in the British and American literary public. For this reason, I have, quite selectively, annotated entries in some of the critical pieces that follow. My criteria have been accessibility and impact: I have clarified references to assist the reader to understand or appreciate a critic’s claim, analogy, or specific line of argument.

-xxix-

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