Night Vision

Delbanco, Andrew. “Night Vision.” Review of The Moral Obligation to be Intelligent: Selected Essays, by Lionel Trilling, edited with an introduction by Leon Wieseltier (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000). New York Review of Books, January 11, 2001.


Trilling’s real distinctiveness, I think, is that he was at heart a teacher. He carried into his writing the classroom principle that stating any proposition without at least a hint of doubt about its validity is a form of bullying. His only dogma was that, pending further thought, all claims ought to be provisional—a conviction whose effect on his prose Wieseltier sums up in an excellent phrase: “There was order in his writing, but there was no repose.”

New York Review of Books