"The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling"
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. She 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.
Diana 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 "ow'''n private hell" as she fought to reconcile competing duties and impulses at home and at work. She 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. Diana 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 Diana 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.
"The Untold Journey 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
"Natalie Robins has pulled off something of a coup. In an age when so-called objectivity has come under justified suspicion and attack, she has managed to write an exquisitely objective and fair account of one of the most contentious and arguably least objective intellectuals: the former Trotskyist and self-described liberal, anti-communist, Diana Trilling. Robins documents Trilling's interactions not only with institutions like the CIA, but also — in person and in print — with an array of intriguing personalities, among them Marilyn Monroe, Norman Mailer, Mary McCarthy and the entire Jewish intellectual establishment, including Alfred Kazin, Norman Podhoretz, Midge Decter, Sidney Hook, Meyer Schapiro, and of course, Diana's husband, Lionel. In the end what we get, in addition to a full history of Diana, is the equivalent of a dual biography of "Di and Li." Read it, laugh and learn." - Victor S. Navasky
"Natalie Robins' absorbing life-study of Diana Trilling is rich in surprises. The book is a fine-grained portrait of the celebrated Trilling marriage, of Lionel's private weaknesses, and his carefully concealed dependence on Diana's engagement in the making of his books. The story told includes Diana Trilling's campaign for her own place in the world of letters, and deftly characterizes the political landscape of their time. The finished portrait is shocking but humane, and is drawn with wit and art. " -Norman Rush
"Diana Trilling—difficult, imperious, "fierce and not elegant," haughty, domineering, ambitious and witty; a "family feminist"; wife, mother, essayist, and editor; anti-Communist and anti-McCarthy: she was all of this, and so much more. Natalie Robins' incisive and illuminating biography offers us a vitally revealing perspective on more than a half-century of culture wars and the New York intellectuals who so delighted in fighting them." -David Nasaw
FROM MS Magazine Summer 2017: Ten Best Feminist books:
"The Untold Journey: The Life of Diana Trilling by Natalie Robins
Robins’ book is for the true bibliophile. meticulously researched and documented, the biography is a detailed foray into the lives of a generation of writers and into the mind of literary critic, writer and intellectual Diana Trilling. Among many other things, Trilling was a feminist, politically passionate and morally assertive. Consider the journey told."