Video  Lionel Trilling

Robert Alter presented the next installment of the Lionel Trilling Seminar on March 7, 2016.  Herbert Marks and Michael Wood served as respondents. The David story and Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma, the first narrative very early and the other relatively late in the Western literary tradition, are deeply instructive instances of how the vehicle of fiction can provide insights into the realm of politics. Each in its own way shows the role individual character plays in the gaining and maintaining of power and how the exercise of power affects or distorts character.  The biblical story is compellingly grave, Stendhal's novel satiric and sometimes comic, but both manifest an unblinking vision of man as a political animal.

March 7, 2016: Robert Alter presents the next installment of the Lionel Trilling Seminar.  The David story and Stendhal's Charterhouse of Parma, the first narrative very early and the other relatively late in the Western literary tradition, are deeply instructive instances of how the vehicle of fiction can provide insights into the realm of politics.  Herbert Marks and Michael Wood serve as respondents.

Through a re-consideration of several classic instances, this lecture explores some of the ways in which the very excesses of polemical or satirical contributions to public debate may themselves be the main bearer of more adequate conceptions of human life.  It asks the unsettling question: might the outrageous offensiveness of F.R. Leavis's notorious attack on C.P. Snow actually provide a better model than contributions that are normally regarded as more 'constructive' and 'helpful'?

Hermione Lee, Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford, New College gave the Lionel Trilling Seminar on "The Hum and Buzz of Implication: Biography and Edith Wharton."  Andrew Delbanco of Columbia University and Jean Strouse, Director of the Cullman Center, New York Public Library, served as respondents.