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The Moral Obligation to Be Intelligent: Selected Essays of Lionel Trilling

4.24 of 5 stars 4.24  ·  rating details  ·  93 ratings  ·  13 reviews
With this re-publication of Lionel Trilling's finest essays, Leon Wieseltier offers readers of many generations, a rich overview of Trilling's achievement. The exhilarating essays collected here include justly celebrated masterpieces - on Mansfield Park and on "Why We Read Jane Austen"; on Twain, Dos Passos, Hemingway, Isaac Babel; on Keats, Wordsworth, Eliot, Frost; on "A ...more
Paperback, 592 pages
Published October 17th 2001 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 481)
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Eric
I cannot recommend this too highly. Trilling's eminence as a critic continues to amaze me. There's a grandeur and a seriousness in every one of these essays. So many who presume to treat a particular novel, story or poem as a specimen of history, of sociology, of philosophy, of "the politics of culture" etc. too often end up using the works under consideration as pretexts for extra-literary blather, as indicted representatives of some to-be-chastened old regime, as excuses for the critic to grin ...more
David
Word on the street is that this was *the* beach book of choice among the delightful guidos and guidettes on MTV's "Jersey Shore" this past summer:

Tony
Mar 03, 2014 Tony rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: essays
THE MORAL OBLIGATION TO BE INTELLIGENT: Selected Essays, Lionel Trilling. (2000). Leon Wieseltier (ed. + intro.) ****.
If you are not already intimidated by the title, you will be by about the third or fourth essay. Lionel Trilling was the premier critic in the country in the 1940s and 1950s. The only contemporary critic that even comes close is, in my opinion, Susan Sontag. Aside from writing thoughtful and provocative reviews for such publications as “The Partisan Review,” and “The Nation,” he
...more
Conrad
Jun 24, 2007 Conrad marked it as to-read
Shelves: to-buy
My current nominee for Most Self-Important Book Title Ever. The essays look good, though; I've only skimmed them and would like to read this in more detail.
Andrew
Lionel Trilling is one of those great ecumenical thinkers. He has the pragmatism and the optimism of an American, but with a fantastic openness towards European ideas. His writing style is lucid and concise-- fitting with the cultural journals he cut his teeth at-- and his expository writings on specific thinkers (Wordsworth, Dreiser, Nietzsche, etc.) are interesting as comments on culture and literature in general as well as bright observations about those thinkers. In many ways, he reminds me ...more
Jina Laguna
The only thing less than steller about this fabulous collection of essays is the title. The title is neither here nor there.

Once you get past that, you will be floored by Lionel Trilling's powerful, incisive and beautiful literary criticisms. It floored me. This book contains his enduring essay on Mansfield Park which, for me, has long been a high water mark in literary criticism. His essays on Keats, Robert Frost and Lolita are also stand outs. A must read.
Michael
Trilling was one of the first critics I read, far more years ago now than I imagined I might live. He is still magnificent--thoughtful, incisive, and, in an age in which clarity seems outmoded, lucid while willing to explore ideas wherever they might lead and to shine a light on every nuance. Humanism may be a dirty word in many circles now; read Trilling to see why it should not be so considered.
Dan
A good thinker. The writing is compromised by Trilling's frequent reaching for the sentence of the greatest allowable generality, which then must be carefully worded. It makes the reading unnecessarily difficult. Particulars come as a relief.
booklady
Apr 23, 2008 booklady marked it as reference
Shelves: literature
The title intrigues me and the author was a professor at Columbia Universtity from '32 until his death in '75. He wrote on and about Literature; why we read Jane Austen, Twain, Hemingway, Keats, Eliot, etc.
Ariella
Jun 09, 2009 Ariella marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Picked this up on the street in Park Slope. I love Brooklyn.
Izetta Autumn
Mar 26, 2008 Izetta Autumn marked it as to-read
Have to read it because I love the title. Love it.
Christopher
My favorite book of all time.
Brandon
Mar 24, 2008 Brandon marked it as to-read
I love the title.
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Lionel Trilling was an American literary critic, author and teacher who, with wife Diana, was a member of the New York Intellectuals and a contributor to the Partisan Review. He was one of the leading U.S. critics of the 20th century who focused on the contemporary cultural, social and political implications of literature.
More about Lionel Trilling...
Sincerity and Authenticity (The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures) The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society The Middle of the Journey The Oxford Anthology of English Literature: Volume V: Victorian Prose and Poetry E. M. Forster

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