Tag: Diana Trilling

The Other Night at Philadelphia

Back in the 1950s or 60s, can’t remember when it was, Diana Trilling had an essay called “The Other Night at Columbia.” It was meant to be a mordant, ironic musing on a poetry reading at Columbia University by Allan Ginsberg, who had been a student of Trilling’s husband, the Columbia professor and literary critic Lionel Trilling. I’m sure I’m misremembering the details, perhaps even the overall mood and ethos of the piece; it’s been a long time. What I vaguely remember is this: Despite Trilling’s attempts to make the essay into a larger comment about littler manners and morals, what you come away with, more than anything else, is her total emotional investment in…Columbia. Even when she’s trying to be critical, […]

Mr. Mailer, when you dip your balls in ink, what color ink is it?

No one—not Gore Vidal, not William Styron, not anyone—ever took down Norman Mailer the way Cynthia Ozick did at Town Hall in 1971. The setting: a debate on “women’s liberation,” as it was then called. The players: Mailer v. Germaine Greer, Diana Trilling, Jill Johnston, and Jacqueline Ceballos. (The event was later memorialized as a documentary.) Everyone focused on the exotic beauty and wit of Greer, the antics of Johnston (which prompted Mailer to say, “Come on, Jill, be a lady”), and the demure, sly presence of Susan Sontag in the audience, but to my mind it was Ozick who stole the show. When she asked, in her neurotic and nervous way, the following question: This question, I have been […]