Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves

By John Rodden | Go to book overview

9
“Matthew Arnold Again,” in Collected Essays of
John Peale Bishop
1948

John Peale Bishop

John Peale Bishop (1892–1944) was a poet, fiction writer, and essayist. His most significant works are his story collection Many Thousands Gone (1931), his novel Act of Darkness (1935), and his Selected Poems (1941). Posthumous acclaim came with the publication of The Collected Poems of John Peale Bishop (1948) and The Collected Essays of John Peale Bishop (1948), edited by Allen Tate and Edmund Wilson, respectively.

A classmate of Wilson and F. Scott Fitzgerald at Princeton (where their teacher Christian Gauss considered Bishop the most talented writer among his peers), a member of the Paris colony of post—World War I American expatriates that included Ezra Pound and Ernest Hemingway, and a friend of the Nashville Agrarians who produced the 1920s magazine The Fugitive and the literary manifesto I’ll Take My Stand (1930), Bishop is probably best known today for his illustrious literary associations, which also included close friendships with Archibald MacLeish and Allen Tate.

In the negative review below, which was not published until 1948, Bishop bemoans that Matthew Arnold constitutes “an example of contemporary scholastic criticism” : “Of quotations there is no end…. Mr. Trilling seems to prefer any opinion to his own.” In a note, Bishop adds that the review was written in 1939, commissioned by Partisan Review, “but the editors declined to print it.” (William Phillips, editor of Partisan Review, eventually wrote apositive review of the book for the magazine. It appears as no. 5 in this volume.)

On the dust-cover of Lionel Trilling’s book on Matthew Arnold is reproduced the head only from a photograph of the poet.1 The eyes are cast

-66-

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