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Short Synopsis
A great critic's quarrels with himself and others, as revealed in his correspondence.

Full Synopsis
In the mid-twentieth century, Lionel Trilling was America's most respected literary critic. His powerful and subtle essays inspired readers to think about how literature shapes our politics, our culture, and our selves. His 1950 collection, The Liberal Imagination, sold more than 100,000 copies, epitomizing a time that has been called the age of criticism.

To his New York intellectual peers, Trilling could seem reserved and circumspect. But in his selected letters, Trilling is revealed in all his variousness and complexity. We witness his ardent courtship of Diana Trilling, who would become an eminent intellectual in her own right; his alternately affectionate and contentious rapport with former students such as Allen Ginsberg and Norman Podhoretz; the complicated politics of Partisan Review and other fabled magazines of the period; and Trilling's relationships with other leading writers of the period, including Saul Bellow, Edmund Wilson, and Norman Mailer.

In Life in Culture, edited by Adam Kirsch, Trilling's letters add up to an intimate portrait of a great critic, and of America's intellectual journey from the political passions of the 1930s to the cultural conflicts of the 1960s and beyond.

"It's a measure of Trilling's brilliance and humanity that these letters are as alive now as then were then. A joy to read, this is one of the most inviting letter collections readers will come across this year." -Library Journal, Starred Review

"A generous sampling of letters that displays the rich intellectual life of mid-20th-century America's leading critic as well as his staunchly even temperament and many second thoughts . . . This epistolary interior monologue shows the defensiveness of a restless and meticulous mind, wary of easy answers and labels and astute about matching the right word to the precise shade of thought." -Kirkus Reviews

"Kirsch has done a fine job culling . . . Trilling's correspondence is undoubtedly valuable . . . The reader is rewarded by [Trilling's] engagement in literature and culture . . . Well worth reading." -Publisher's Weekly
Library Journal Review

Life in Culture

Selected Letters of Lionel Trilling

Author Lionel Trilling

Narrated by Paul Heitsch

Publication date Oct 16, 2018

Running time 17 hrs 18 min

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