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The Middle of the Journey (New York Review Books Classics) Paperback – September 1, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"…this moody document of a vanished intelligentsia anticipates the deepening crisis of the left in the McCarthy years." — Publishers Weekly
"Lionel Trilling’s The Middle of the Journey is a searching account of the liberal’s dilemma of conscience in a world surrendering to extremes of dogma, an important first novel by a distinguished critic….Mr. Trilling has sounded a new note of dissent, a more realistic and mature one than the frantic reformism of the thirties and the sterile disillusionment of the twenties." — The Atlantic Monthly
"A depth that recalls Dostoyevsky and a subtlety worthy of Henry James." — Listener
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Top Customer Reviews
Having said that there is one sex scene and one scene of violence in the book, but Trilling's carefully marinated prose shows that sex and violence take place in a person's mind long before the acts happen. Trilling shows us what happens when four East Coast intellectuals--who espouse communist, socialist, or progressive and liberal ideas--meet for a summer month in the Connecticut countryside. (Note that at the time of publication in 1947, Trilling claimed that none of his characters drew upon any living person; later, Trilling confessed otherwise.)
The Middle of the Journey shows the development of the lives of people we ought to care about: sensitive, intelligent "knowledge workers" who have the power and ability to use their brains toward the good of the nation and to benefit marginalized people. But these literati and intelligentsia are human, and they have typical weaknesses: difficulties recognizing their own emotions, particularly when they are vulnerable to fear and delusion, and they have difficulties communicating with working-class, provincial people (the very ones they intend to help).Read more ›
"Nancy's feeling was not about conforming or not conforming, not about freedom or submission. It was a feeling about human nature, a profound dissatisfaction with the way human beings had ever been..."
"And never has there been so much talk of liberty while the chains are being forged. Democracy and freedom And in the the most secret heart of every intellectual, where he scarcely knows of it himself, there lies hidden the real hope that these words hide. It is the hope of power, the desire to bring his ideas to reality by imposing them on his fellow man."
"You believed me when I brought you good news of it. Now that I bring you bad news of it, you not only will not listen to me, but you fear me and call me names. I am sure you will say that I have no proof. But I had no proof before. You believe as you want to believe."
Nicely done, with a good deal of subtlety, and without spitefulness or malice in any direction. Everybody had their reasons and ideals, after all, misplaced as some of those turned out to be.
In the story, John Laskell is a New York intellectual who takes a summer vacation in New England after emotional and physical devastation (his lover died and he later contracted scarlet fever). Invited to the country by two people from his circle, Arthur and Nancy Croom, he boards with a local family and gradually moves from pastoral observer to active participant in the rural life of New England. Throughout the summer, he slowly overcomes a small portion of his initial arrogance and allows himself to become involved with various locals. Most notable are his foil Duck Caldwell, Duck's wife and daughter, his hosts the Folgers, and the Folger's aristocratic and feudal benefactor, Julia Walker. These continued involvements force him out of some long-held beliefs and a final, unexpected tragedy forces Laskell to break with his earlier philosophies and, consequently, his inner circle of friends. Aiding in this change is Gifford Maxim, a mutual acquaintance of Laskell and the Crooms, whose earlier break with the Communist Party and subsequent religious fervor places an additional strain on the relationship between Laskell, his friends, and his ideas. (It is important to note that the Communist Party held a certain sway amongst intellectuals in the 1930's and 1940's that did not fully diminish until Stalin's atrocities became irrefutable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A group of urban intellectual communist fellow-travelers, Jeffersonians fleeing the "dark Satanic Mills" for the summer vacation, expose themselves to comparatively... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Allegrippus
The Middle of the Journey (New York Review Books Classics)
Lionel Trilling, Professor of English at Columbia University, had one novel, and it offered a brilliant insight into... Read more
Lionel Trilling only published one novel but he was an esteemed literary critic at Columbia University. Read morePublished on September 19, 2008 by John E. Woodbery