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Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling

by Natalie Robins Columbia University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 424 pages
AU$69.99 NZ$69.56
Product Status: In Stock Now
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Throughout her life, Diana Trilling (1905-1996) wrote about profound social changes with candor and wisdom, first for The Nation and later for Partisan Review, Harpers, and such popular magazines as Vogue and McCalls. Trilling went on to publish five books, including the best-selling Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor, written when she was in her late seventies. She was also one half of one of the most famous intellectual couples in the United States.

Trilling's life with Columbia University professor and literary critic Lionel Trilling was filled with secrets, struggles, and betrayals, and she endured what she called her "own private hell" as she fought to reconcile competing duties and impulses at home and at work. Trilling was a feminist, yet she insisted that women's liberation created unnecessary friction with men, asserting that her career ambitions should be on equal footing with caring for her child and supporting her husband. She fearlessly expressed sensitive, controversial, and moral views, and fought publicly with Lillian Hellman, among other celebrated writers and intellectuals, over politics. Trilling was an anticommunist liberal, a position often misunderstood, especially by her literary and university friends. And finally, she was among the "New Journalists" who transformed writing and reporting in the 1960s, making her nonfiction as imaginative in style and scope as a novel. The first biographer to mine Trilling's extensive archives, Natalie Robins tells a previously undisclosed history of an essential member of New York City culture at a time of dynamic change and intellectual relevance.

Preface1. Escape Into Fiction2. Undertakings3. Prolegomenon4. Isolation and Desperation5. The Rest of Our Lives6. The Greatest Service7. The Nation Calls8. Not Merely a Critic's Wife9. Glowing10. Oh Be Brave11. Guilt Makes Us Human12. Weaving13. Subversive Sex14. A Limited Kind of Celebrity15. At a Table16. Just Close Your Eyes17. Not Giving a Damn18. Her Own Place19. Re-creation and ImaginationEpilogue: ArcadiaAcknowledgmentsSource NotesSelected BibliographyIndex

The Untold Story possesses a novelistic vividness and immediacy. Robins makes Diana Trilling, in all her complexity, come alive on the page. A thoroughly absorbing book about one of the most famous American intellectuals of the second half of the 20th century.  

Ross Posnock, Columbia University
Natalie Robins is the author of four books of poetry and five works of nonfiction, among them Copeland's Cure: Homeopathy and the War Between Conventional and Alternative Medicine (2005); The Girl Who Died Twice: The Libby Zion Case and the Hidden Hazards of Hospitals (1995); and Alien Ink: The FBI's War on Freedom of Expression (1992), which won the Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award. She lives with her husband in New York City.