Over at my other other digs, we’re hosting a book event on Trilling’s unpublished novel The Journey Abandoned.  It’s moderated by my friend Stephen Schryer, and already features contributions by Schryer, Miriam Burstein, Eugene Goodheart, Mark Shechner, and Harvey Teres.  From Schryer’s introduction:

Throughout his career, Trilling’s central preoccupation was the habits and ideas of the American intelligentsia, a group, he noted in 1939, “that has grown enormously in the last decade.” More than any other literary critic, he helped establish the notion that U.S. intellectuals form a distinct class and that writers, who are themselves members of this class, should turn their attention to it.  “The novel of the next decades,” he predicted in The Liberal Imagination, “will deal in a very explicit way with ideas.” Influenced by this conception of the novel, many American writers of the 1940s turned away from the naturalistic subjects that dominated the literary culture of the 1930s, focusing instead on the role of ideas and intellectuals in U.S. society.  As Saul Bellow later reflected about the period’s literary debates, “it seemed to me at a certain point we had gone as far in America as stupidity would get us.  We were living in a very sophisticated society – on the technological side, extremely sophisticated – surrounded by all sorts of curious inventions and writers still insisted on sitting on the curb and playing poker and talking about whores.”