Beyond Liberalism

Spender, Stephen. "Beyond Liberalism." Commentary, August 1950. Reprinted in Lionel Trilling and the Critics: Opposing Selves. 


Mr. Trilling thinks the liberal imagination defective, and it is scarcely too much to say that his book might well be entitled “The Liberal Lack of Imagination.” What it amounts to is that liberals are inclined to—or do—live within a spiritual orthodoxy of belief in progress and support of humanitarian causes, which is based on their having a generalized view of humanity as a whole and neglecting to examine closely the nature of the individual human heart. Thus the situation arises that the liberal creative writers, with their diffused social vision, have not had the profoundest things to say about people, and are in fact not the best writers: despite the generally accepted liberalism of our educated society, the best writers are men with illiberal views.

Commentary Magazine