Lionel Trilling


Lionel Trilling Quotes

  • ''We are all ill: but even a universal sickness implies an idea of health.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. "Art and Neurosis," The Liberal Imagination (1950). referring to neurosis. In a notebook entry for 1946, Trilling wrote: "Every neurosis is a primitive form of legal proceeding in which the accused carries on the prosecution, imposes judgment and executes the sentence: all to the end that someone else should not perform the same process." (Published in Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, ed. William Philips, 1985).
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  • ''A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Beyond Culture, preface (1965).
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  • ''Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Esquire (New York, Sept. 1962).
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  • ''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.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. "Freud: Within and Beyond Culture," sect. 2, Beyond Culture (1965).
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  • ''We are at heart so profoundly anarchistic that the only form of state we can imagine living in is Utopian; and so cynical that the only Utopia we can believe in is authoritarian.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Notebook entry, 1948. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, ed. William Philips (1985).
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  • ''It is possible that the contemplation of cruelty will not make us humane but cruel; that the reiteration of the badness of our spiritual condition will make us consent to it.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, entry in 1948, ed. William Philips (1985). On Plato's theory of art.
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  • ''Reasons for not keeping a notebook: 1) the ambiguity of the reader—it is never quite oneself. 2) I usually hate the sight of my handwriting—it lives too much and I dislike its life—I mean by "lives," of course, betrays too much!''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Notebook entry, 1944. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, ed. William Philips (1985).
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  • ''If one defends the bourgeois, philistine virtues, one does not defend them merely from the demonism or bohemianism of the artist but from the present bourgeoisie itself.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, notebook entry, 1951, ed. William Philips (1985).
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  • ''Every neurosis is a primitive form of legal proceeding in which the accused carries on the prosecution, imposes judgment and executes the sentence: all to the end that someone else should not perform the same process.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Notebook entry, 1946. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, ed. William Philips (1985).
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  • ''Being a Jew is like walking in the wind or swimming: you are touched at all points and conscious everywhere.''
    Lionel Trilling (1905-1975), U.S. critic. Notebook entry, 1928. Partisan Review 50th Anniversary Edition, ed. William Philips (1985).
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