Lionel Trilling citáty

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Lionel Trilling

Datum narození: 4. červenec 1905
Datum úmrtí: 5. listopad 1975

Lionel Mordecai Trilling byl americký literární teoretik a kritik, jeden z nejvlivnějších ve 20. století.

Přispíval do marxistického časopisu Partisan Review a byl členem skupiny zvané New York Intellectuals. K předmětům jeho zájmu patřili nejprve zejména Matthew Arnold a Edward Morgan Forster, později i řada řada dalších kulturních témat a teorie kultury obecně. Byl mj. prvním, kdo ocenil Nabokovův román Lolita a přispěl tak zásadně k jeho přijetí do "vysoké literatury". Napsal i tři beletristické knihy, dvě z nich však byly vydány až po jeho smrti.


„...posouzení Forsterova díla je, myslím, užitečné v době války.“

„Literature is the human activity that takes the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.“


„I see no reason in morality, why literature should not have as one of its intentions the arousing of thoughts of lust. It is one of the effects, perhaps one of the functions of literature to arouse desire, and I can discover no grounds for saying that sexual pleasure should not be among the objects of desire which literature presents to us, along with heroism, virtue, peace, death, food, wisdom, God, etc.“

„Our culture tends "to regard the mere energy of impulse as being in every mental and moral way equivalent and even superior to defined intention." Instead we should consider "an idea that once was salient in western culture: the idea of "making a life", by which was meant conceiving human existence, one's own or another's, as if it were a work of art upon which one might pass judgment.... This desire to fashion, to shape, a self and a life has all but gone from a contemporary culture whose emphasis, paradoxically enough, is so much on self.“

„We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.“

„In the most secret heart of every intellectual... there lies hidden... the hope of power, the desire to bring his ideas to reality by imposing them on his fellow man.“

„Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood“ The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society

„We live, understandably enough, with the sense of urgency; our clock, like Baudelaire’s, has had the hands removed and bears the legend, “It is later than you think.” But with us it is always a little too late for mind, yet never too late for honest stupidity; always a little too late for understanding, never too late for righteous, bewildered wrath; always too late for thought, never too late for naïve moralizing. We seem to like to condemn our finest but not our worst qualities by pitting them against the exigency of time.“ Liberal Imagination


„At the behest of the criterion of authenticity, much that was once thought to make up the very fabric of culture has come to seem of little account, mere fantasy or ritual, or downright falsification. Conversely, much that culture traditionally condemned and sought to exclude is accorded a considerable moral authority by reason of the authenticity claimed for it, for example, disorder, violence, unreason.“ Sincerity and Authenticity

„Man… is an inextricable tangle of culture and biology. And not being simple, he is not simply good; he has… a kind of hell within him from which rise everlastingly the impulses which threaten his civilization. He has the faculty of imagining for himself more in the way of pleasure and satisfaction than he can possibly achieve. Everything that he gains he pays for in more than equal coin; compromise and the compounding with defeat constitute his best way of getting through the world. His best qualities are the result of a struggle whose outcome is tragic. Yet he is a creature of love…“ The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society

„Nowadays our sense of history is being destroyed by the nature of our history - our memory is short and it grows shorter under the rapidity of the assault of events. What once occupied all our minds and filled the musty meeting halls with the awareness of heroism and destiny has now become chiefly a matter for the historical scholar.“

„Orwell clung with a kind of wry, grim pride to the old ways of the last class that had ruled the old order. He must sometimes have wondered how it came about that he should be praising sportsmanship and gentlemanliness and dutifulness and physical courage. He seems to have thought, and very likely he was right, that they might come in handy as revolutionary virtues.“


„... perhaps we have never been more than vocal and perhaps soon we can hope to be no more than thoughtful...“

„consistent affection for his characters is what sets Tolstoy apart. Flaubert is equally “objective,” he says, but “Flaubert’s objectivity is charged with irritability and Tolstoy’s with affection. For Flaubert everyone and everything is somehow at fault. For Tolstoy everyone and everything has a saving grace.”

“By loving people without cause, he discovered indubitable causes for loving them.” It would be hard to find a more succinct description of the chief work of the Holy Spirit in the human heart.“

„By most people the 'sense of reality' is understood to be the submission to events and indeed illusion is often salvation.“

„The aspects of society that humanism most exalts are justice and continuity. That is why humanism is always being presented with a contradiction. For when it speaks of justice it holds that the human condition is absolute; yet when it speaks of continuity it implies that society is not absolute but pragmatic and even anomalous. Its intelligence dictates the removal of all that is anomalous; yet its ideal of social continuity is validated by its perception that the effort to destroy anomaly out of hand will probably bring new and even worse anomalies, the nature of man being what it is. "Let justice be done though the heavens fall" is balanced by awareness of the likelihood that after the heavens have fallen justice will not ever be done again. Hence the humanistic belief, often delusive, that society can change itself gradually by taking thought and revising sensibility. Hence too the humanistic valuation, possibly overvaluation, of discourse and letters.“ Matthew Arnold: With an Additional Essay Matthew Arnold, Poet

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