Skip to main content

Trilling, Diana


TRILLING, DIANA (1905–1996), U.S. literary critic. Born in New York to Polish immigrants, Diana Rubin graduated from Radcliffe College. In 1927 she met Lionel *Trilling, a graduate student in literature at Columbia who was to become one of the foremost literary critics and teachers in the United States. They married in 1929. "With marriage I had entered Lionel's world," she wrote. "It was with his friends that I chiefly associated. They were not easy companions, these intellectuals. They were overbearing and arrogant, excessively competitive; they lacked magnanimity and often they lacked common courtesy. Ours was a cruelly judgmental society, often malicious and riddled with envy." These intellectuals included Alfred *Kazin, Irving *Howe, Philip *Rahv, Sidney *Hook, Delmore *Schwartz, Dwight McDonald, Hannah *Arendt, Saul *Bellow, Mary McCarthy, Clement *Greenberg, Irving Kristol, and others who helped set the intellectual agenda of the United States in the 1940s and 1950s. Diana Trilling began writing in 1941 and continued into her 90th year, despite failing eyesight, composing a 75-page article on a Welsh literary figure for The New Yorker. At one point, as a critic for The Nation, she read a novel a day for six and a half years, delivering challenging reviews on some of the most important works of the modern era: Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men, Jean-Paul Sartre's Age of Reason, and George Orwell's 1984. No novels, volumes of poetry, or short fiction bore her name, but among her writing credits were five books: three collections of essays and reviews, an impressionistic piece of journalism, Mrs. Harris: The Death of the Scarsdale Diet Doctor (1981), and The Beginning of the Journey (1984), a memoir. Her work appeared in leading magazines, including The Atlantic, Harper's, The Saturday Review, and The Partisan Review, to which she contributed essays. In 1975 Lionel Trilling died, and in the years that followed she worked to assure his legacy, editing a 12-volume uniform edition of his work. She also published two collections of her criticism, Reviewing the Forties and We Must My Darlings (1977).

[Stewart Kampel (2nd ed.)]

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Trilling, Diana." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . 18 Aug. 2018 <>.

"Trilling, Diana." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . (August 18, 2018).

"Trilling, Diana." Encyclopaedia Judaica. . Retrieved August 18, 2018 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.