Friday, 18 November 2011


On Lionel Trilling and the Social Imagination

Alas (83) Parrington was my first taste of lit crit in 1949! I knew Trilling flinched at the rejection of his novel (I'm finally moved to read it!), but I never knew how deeply it paralyzed him.

The distance between Queens and Upper Manhattan was not nearly as distant as Columbia sociologist Herb Gans (b.1927) who spanned his birth in Cologne and fled to America in 1941--to became a sociologist much more humanistic than lit crit Trilling was sociological, and who had to scrounge for mentors in late Victorian England. Gans metabolized Blake, Whitman and Melville more than this faux elegant Whiner.

There are worse things than being a flop as a novelist, e.g. poisoning the term "Liberal" because his more perceptive contemporaries rejected his second rate fiction.

Patrick D.Hazard, Weimar, Germany

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