Lionel Trilling

American Critic

Lived from: 1905-1975

Quotes: Lionel Trilling

Quotes 1 till 12 of 12.

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    A primary function of art and thought is to liberate the individual from the tyranny of his culture in the environmental sense and to permit him to stand beyond it in an autonomy of perception and judgment.
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    Being a Jew is like walking in the wind or swimming: you are touched at all points and conscious everywhere.
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    Every neurosis is a primitive form of legal proceeding in which the accused carries on the prosecution, imposes judgment and executes the sentence: all to the end that someone else should not perform the same process.
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    Immature artists imitate. Mature artists steal.
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    In the American metaphysic, reality is always material reality, hard, resistant, unformed, impenetrable, and unpleasant.
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    Literature is the human activity that make the fullest and most precise account of variousness, possibility, complexity, and difficulty.
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    Probably it is impossible for humor to be ever a revolutionary weapon. Candide can do little more than generate irony.
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    The function of literature, through all its mutations, has been to make us aware of the particularity of selves, and the high authority of the self in its quarrel with its society and its culture. Literature is in that sense subversive.
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    The immature artist imitates. The mature artist steals.
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    We are at heart so profoundly anarchistic that the only form of state we can imagine living in is Utopian; and so cynical that the only Utopia we can believe in is authoritarian.
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    We who are liberal and progressive know that the poor are our equals in every sense except that of being equal to us.
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    Where misunderstanding serves others as an advantage, one is helpless to make oneself understood.
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