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Heller, P. (1951). The Liberal Imagination. Essays on Literature and Society: By Lionel Trilling. (New York: Viking Press, 1950.). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 32:254-256.

(1951). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 32:254-256

The Liberal Imagination. Essays on Literature and Society: By Lionel Trilling. (New York: Viking Press, 1950.)

Review by:
Peter Heller

The American liberal tends towards a simplistic view of life. Hence liberalism, according to Trilling, must be reformed from within. If it is to remain a productive force, it must be recalled to its first essential awareness of 'variousness, possibility, complexity and difficulty'. Freud's place within this general framework is evident. His view of life—as Trilling sees it—culminates in 'the idea of the reality principle' and in 'the idea of the death-instinct'. A 'grim poetry', a 'classic tragic realism' pervade his psychology, which does not narrow and simplify the human world for the artist but on the contrary opens and complicates it.

Trilling's essays on 'Freud and Literature', on 'Art and Neurosis', and, especially, on 'The Kinsey Report' and its sociological significance, prove that the author has assimilated the psycho-analytic approach to an extent which is—as yet—rare among laymen.

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