Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves

By John Rodden | Go to book overview

69
Excerpt from The Beginning of the Journey: The Marriage of
Diana and Lionel Trilling
1993

Diana Trilling

Diana Trilling (1905–96) was a literary-cultural critic and essayist. She was the author of three collections of prose and criticism, Claremont Essays (1964), We Must March My Darlings (1977), and Reviewing the Forties (1978), along with Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor (1981), a study of Jean Harris, the former girls’ school headmistress convicted of murdering the well-known doctor Herman Tarnower. The book received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for nonaction in 1982.

Diana Trilling was also known as a critic and editor of the work of D. H. Lawrence and especially as editor of the twelve-volume Uniform Edition of Lionel Trilling’s complete works, published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich (1977–80).

An important member of the elder generation of New York writers associated with Partisan Review and Commentary in the early postwar era, Diana Trilling was a prominent voice in the American intelligentsia for more than a half century. She first gained attention as a literary journalist and reviewer during her years as the fiction critic of The Nation (1942–49). A fierce critic of Stalinism even before World War II, Diana Trilling aroused controversy during the 1950s and ’60s as an outspoken, self-described “liberal antiCommunist.” Her anti-Communist politics were reflected in her work as a member of the American Committee for Cultural Freedom (which she chaired during 1955–57) and her regular columns for the anti-Stalinist New Leader (1957–59).

Like Lionel Trilling, Diana Trilling was a moral critic whose concerns revolved around political and cultural issues. Although the couple’s posi-

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