Sunday, October 12, 2008

Lionel Trilling and Howells

From the Post-Gazette:

"Trilling's popularity then seemed just as unlikely as it would today," Arac said, contrasting the 1950s with the mid-19th-century when Americans believed "literature had power."

"Century [Illustrated] Magazine had a circulation of more than 100,000 in the 1880s when it published James 'The Bostonians' and William Dean Howells' 'The Rise of Silas Lapham,' " he said.

"Trilling's work was published in The Partisan Review with a circulation less than 3,000."

Yet, his essays in the 1950 collection, particularly "Reality in America," seemed "to hit a culture nerve" in the Cold War.