The Middle of the Journey
The Middle of the Journey
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Published in 1947, as the cold war was heating up, Lionel Trilling’s only novel was a prophetic reckoning with the bitter ideological disputes that were to come to a head in the McCarthy era. The Middle of the Journey revolves around a political turncoat and the anger his action awakens among a group of intellectuals summering in Connecticut. The story, however, is less concerned with the rights and wrongs of left and right than with an absence of integrity at the very heart of the debate. Certainly the hero, John Laskell, staging a slow recovery from the death of his lover and a near-fatal illness of his own, comes to suspect that the conflicts and commitments involved are little more than a distraction from the real responsibilities, and terrors, of the common world.
A detailed, sometimes slyly humorous, picture of the manners and mores of the intelligentsia, as well as a work of surprising tenderness and ultimately tragic import, The Middle of the Journey is a novel of ideas whose quiet resonance has only grown with time. This is a deeply troubling examination of America by one of its greatest critics.
wrist. He let go of it. Duck’s eyes were open, but he lay perfectly still. Laskell was revolted by the sight of Duck lying there with his eyes open, and he was revolted by himself for having brought Duck to this low state. It seemed to him that there never had been anything uglier than the picture of himself and Duck as they had been through their fight and were now. They all stood there looking in embarrassment at the man lying in the dust of the road. He lay there, not moving, looking up at
lawn, a most attractive house, square and firm-set. There was a graceful doorway at the front, but no path led up to it. Arthur turned into the driveway alongside the long, low, unrailed porch, and it was obvious that all life came and went by the side door. It was very still. Hens pecked about the lawn and three fat hounds came up in the most amiable way to nose the visitors. On the low veranda sat an old man in a rocker. He was asleep with his toothless mouth open, but he woke when they came
much. And Paine, who had been so important in that peace, she too was on the way to being over. She had become casual with Laskell. He was no longer the center of her regard. She was restless. Her function had departed and she too wished now to depart. She lived for the moment when she could enter a new sickroom and say, “I am Paine. Isn’t that a dreadful name for a nurse?” Her desire to go made Laskell stubborn. She pointed out that he was wasting money keeping her and Laskell replied sharply
true quality of its design. Actually the design, for all its boldness, was a dull one, and whatever aesthetic value it had came from the memory of the time when the designs of Leon Bakst were startling. Laskell knew that Nancy was comparing the painted bowl with what it had looked like before Emily Caldwell had got to work on it, seeing the plain wood before the sticky color had been applied, remembering the bowl when it had existed only for its function and not as a mere ornament or as the
Especially not to Mrs. Folger. Even her father doesn’t know.” He did not even bother to give his promise of secrecy. “Her father doesn’t know! How could you not have told him?” Emily looked puzzled. “I don’t know,” she said. “He wouldn’t respect her.” “Wouldn’t respect her? What do you mean?” It was the only thing she had ever said that could be construed as a criticism of her husband, and when he asked her what she meant by it, she could not explain. After a moment of silence, she said