Why Trilling Matters Adam Kirsch

Series:
Why X Matters Series
Format:
Paperback
Publication date:
05 Feb 2013
ISBN:
9780300187823
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
192 pages: 190 x 127mm

Lionel Trilling, regarded at the time of his death in 1975 as America's preeminent literary critic, is today often seen as a relic of a vanished era. His was an age when literary criticism and ideas seemed to matter profoundly in the intellectual life of the country. In this eloquent book, Adam Kirsch shows that Trilling, far from being obsolete, is essential to understanding our current crisis of literary confidence - and to overcoming it. By reading Trilling primarily as a writer and thinker, Kirsch demonstrates how Trilling's original and moving work continues to provide an inspiring example of a mind creating itself through its encounters with texts.

Why Trilling Matters introduces all of Trilling's major writings and situates him in the intellectual landscape of his century, from Communism in the 1930s to neoconservatism in the 1970s. But Kirsch goes deeper, addressing today's concerns about the decline of literature, reading, and even the book itself, and finds that Trilling has more to teach us now than ever before. As Kirsch writes, "Trilling's essays are not exactly literary criticism" but, like all literature, "ends in themselves".

Adam Kirsch is a senior editor at the New Republic and a columnist for Tablet magazine. He is the author of several books of poetry and criticism, and most recently of a short biography of Benjamin Disraeli. He lives in New York City.

"In setting out to demonstrate that Trilling still matters, Kirsch is asserting the value of literature and a literary culture. If Trilling thought and wrote, frequently, about the relation of literature to society, it was because, like Matthew Arnold on whom he 'modelled himself in certain ways', he saw in literature the necessary and most penetrating criticism of society, of 'the way we live now'."Alan Massie, Times Literary Supplement

"Why Trilling Matters is not simply the best book yet written on Lionel Trilling. Its subject... is the pretext for an invigorating magic trick. With Trilling's help, Kirsch transforms a backward glance into a forward step."--Michael Kimmage, New York Times Book Review

"Adam Kirsch's thoughtful and unusual little book."--Stefani Collini, New Statesman