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The Beginning of the Journey

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Despite her entrenched independence, Trilling and her husband, the preeminent critic Lionel Trilling, had a marriage more conventional than those of most of their counterparts in the New York of the ’30s and ’40s. They didn’t drink too much, they endured their neuroses and depression without much fuss, and in an increasingly liberal sexual atmosphere they remained deeply committed to each other for 46 years. Trilling’s decision to keep herself at the center of The Beginning of the Journey results in a refreshing view of a time dominated by male critics. Also, her candor and lack of sentimentality give us a valuable portrait of a group of writers and critics who, while exceedingly verbal about literature and culture, seldom took themselves as subjects. A