Does Lionel Trilling Matter?

Massie, Allan. “Does Lionel Trilling Matter?” Review of Why Trilling Matters, by Adam Kirsch (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2011). Times Literary Supplement, February 1, 2012.


In setting out to demonstrate that Trilling still matters, Kirsch is asserting the value of literature and a literary culture. If Trilling thought and wrote, frequently, about the relation of literature to society, it was because, like Matthew Arnold on whom he “modelled himself in certain ways”, he saw in literature the necessary and most penetrating criticism of society, of “the way we live now”. Kirsch has written a book best described as a defence and elucidation of Trilling. The title expresses his position. Trilling matters because literature matters. It offers our best means of coming to an understanding of ourselves and of society.

Times Literary Supplement