Lionel Trilling was born 4 July 1905, and died 5 November 1975
- It is now life and not art that requires the willing suspension of disbelief.
- Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.
- Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.
- The poet is in command of his fantasy, while it is exactly the mark of the neurotic that he is possessed by his fantasy.
- We live, understandably enough, with the sense of urgency; our clock, like Baudelaire’s, has had the hands removed and bears the legend, “It is later than you think.”
- What marks the artist is his power to shape the material of pain we all have.
- The function of literature, through all its mutations, has been to make us aware of the particularity of selves, and the high authority of the self in its quarrel with its society and its culture. Literature is in that sense subversive.
- The poet may be used as a barometer, but let us not forget that he is also part of the weather.
- After all, no one is ever taken in by the happy ending, but we are often divinely fuddled by the tragic curtain.
Lionel Trilling was an American literary critic, short story writer, essayist, and teacher. He is the author of The Liberal Imagination.
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