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This article is taken from PN Review 10, Volume 6 Number 2, November - December 1979.

Lionel Trilling 1905-1975
Edited and presented by PhilIip French
with contributions from Daniel Aaron, Quentin
Anderson, Jacques Barzun, Stephen Donadio,
Morris Dickstein, John Hollander, Irvin Howe, Alfred Kazin, Steven Marcus and Norman

Contributors:

DANIEL AARON
QUENTIN ANDERSON
JACQUES BARZUN
STEPHEN DONADIO
MORRIS DICKSTEIN
JOHN HOLLANDER
IRVING HOWE
ALFRED KAZIN
STEVEN MARCUS
NORMAN PODHORETZ

FRENCH: In Britain Lionel Trilling's reputation is high and secure, though restricted to a relatively small circle of readers. His studies of Matthew Arnold and E. M. Forster, his novel The Middle of the Journey, his critical essays, most notably those collected in 1950 under the title The Liberal Imagination, haven't wanted for admirers here, and during the latter part of his life he was a welcome lecturer and visiting Professor in this country. Yet for all his high standing on this side of the Atlantic he was never the controversial, emblematic, or charismatic figure that he became-and continues to be-in America. One of my aims is to explain the perculiar position he has in American intellectual life; another, connected to it, is to show why his writings and cast of mind have an enduring importance for us here as well.

Let's start with a word from Professor Morris Dickstein, one of New York's brightest younger critics: I've heard the gist of what he says variously expressed by many Americans over the years.

DICKSTEIN: I remember very vividly reading The Liberal Imagination at the end of my second year at Columbia, along with Jacques Barzun's book Teacher in America. Now Barzun's book helped make me decide not to be a journalist ...


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