The Beginning of the Journey, by Diana Trilling
Of the many possible reasons for publishing a memoir, Diana Trilling’s must surely rank among the oddest. She tells us in her preface to The Beginning of the Journey that in writing the book she had hoped to accomplish two things. First, the various accounts of her husband, the eminent critic Lionel Trilling, that have been published since his death in 1975 have tended to dwell almost exclusively on his many graces, failing to perceive or understand the darker aspect of his nature, and she wanted to ensure that he would no longer be seen, as she puts it, “so narrowly.” Second, in pondering the disposition of her husband’s papers after his death, she came to think that some day a biographer might find that she and he together made a more interesting subject than either of them alone: “If this should happen, I wanted the undertaking to be more solidly rooted in truth than was likely were the biographer dependent on existing sources.”
The Beginning of the Journey brings the Trillings up only to 1950. There are occasional flashes forward, but mainly it is about their courtship and the first 21 years of their marriage. And aside from the story of how they for one brief moment in the early 1930′s flirted with the Communists and then quickly became lifelong anti-Communists, there is suprisingly little (and that highly selective and not altogether accurate) about the subsequent political wars in which she was so visible and audible a participant.
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