First Edition of Lionel Trilling's The Liberal Imagination; Inscribed and dated by Him in the Year of Publication

  • The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society.

The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society.


Item Number: 22071

New York: The Viking Press, 1950.

First edition of one of the influential works of criticism published in the twentieth century. Octavo, original cloth. Inscribed by the author in the year of publication, “To Sue and George in friendship and regard Lionel March 1950.” Fine in a very good dust jacket.

The Liberal Imagination is one of the most admired and influential works of criticism of the last century, a work that is not only a masterpiece of literary criticism but an important statement about politics and society. Published in 1950, one of the chillier moments of the Cold War, Trilling’s essays examine the promise —and limits—of liberalism, challenging the complacency of a naïve liberal belief in rationality, progress, and the panaceas of economics and other social sciences, and asserting in their stead the irreducible complexity of human motivation and the tragic inevitability of tragedy. Only the imagination, Trilling argues, can give us access and insight into these realms and only the imagination can ground a reflective and considered, rather than programmatic and dogmatic, liberalism. "Writing with acute intelligence about classics like Huckleberry Finn and the novels of Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, but also on such varied matters as the Kinsey Report and money in the American imagination, Trilling presents a model of the critic as both part of and apart from his society, a defender of the reflective life that, in our ever more rationalized world, seems ever more necessary—and ever more remote" (The New York Review of Books). Named by The National Review as one of the 100 best non-fiction books of the century.

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