Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Middle of the Journey

Lionel Trilling

The Middle of the Journey is a novel of ideology and ideas. Written in 1947 and set in the years just preceding, it details the lives of several characters, including a protagonist, John Laskell, who is conflicted about his life, his friends and the ideology that influences them. His friend Gifford Maxim has left the Communist Party and the book contains dialogues among the characters and him about this, and other seemingly more mundane matters, which take up most of the story. Exceptionally well-written, with literary references, symbolism (undoubtedly much of which I did not grasp) and slowly-built suspense, this singular novel by the noted essayist, educator and critic Lionel Trilling, is a challenging and interesting book to read. While Trilling, according to the introduction to the NYRB edition, was impressed by the work of Faulkner and Hemingway among American writers, I found his style reminded me more of the early Henry James.

The Middle of the Journey by Lionel Trilling. New York Review Books, New York. 2002 (1947)

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