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Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe: And Other Stories of Literary Friendship

Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe: And Other Stories of Literary Friendship (Hardback)

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This pioneering effort links history and personality by pairing intellectual friends, most notably Lionel Trilling and Irving Howe, but also Thomas Carlyle and John Stuart Mill, D. H. Lawrence and Bertrand Russell, George Eliot and Emanuel Deutsch, Theodore Roethke and Robert Heilman. Chronologically the essays range from the early 1830s, when Carlyle and Mill discovered each other, to 1975, when Lionel Trilling died.The essay that gives this volume its title is also the most ambitious. Alexander examines Trilling and Howe in relation to one another and to Jewish quandaries, Henry James, politics and fiction, antisemitic writers, literary radicals, 1960s insurrectionists, the state of Israel, the nature of friendship itself.The chapter on the friendships (and ex-friendships) of Carlyle and Mill, Lawrence and Russell, views their stories against the background of the modern conflict between reason and feeling, positivism and imagination. Though some relationships began in adversity, they developed into friendships. This happened with Roethke and Heilman, and with Eliot and Deutsch. As a young woman, Eliot disparaged Jews as candidates for "extermination," but her friendship with the Talmudic scholar Deutsch changed her into one of the major Judeophiles of the Victorian period. The quartet of Carlyle and Mill, Lawrence and Russell shows how quickly-formed literary friendships, especially those based on hunger for disciples, can dissolve into ex-friendships. This volume offers new perspectives on leading literary figures and their relationship, and shows how friendship influences art.

Edward Alexander is professor emeritus of English at the University of Washington, Seattle. He is the author of The Jewish Idea and Its Enemies, The Holocaust and the War of Ideas, and Irving Howe: Socialist, Critic, Jew.

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