I believe the main theme in "Of This Time, Of That Place", by Lionel Trilling, is the writing and understanding of literature by modern students, and how it differs from those by past old school' strategies. Trilling demonstrates this by Joseph Howe's poems being critiqued by Frederic Woolley, the editor of the magazine Life and Letters. In it, Woolley condemns Howe's works, compared to those of Thomas Wormser, claiming Howe's works were "insulting" and written with "precious subjectivism" (262). He goes on to praise Wormser's literature, declaring that his work "
is what is needed in our time and place
Certainly it is true that Thomas Wormser writes in the lucid Dorian mode which sends men into battle with evil" (263). I believe Woolley is part of the old school' literary groups. He does not understand, let alone appreciate, the works of Howe and their message. He chooses to overlook the quality and significance of the work at hand, blinded by his bias opinion against literature not written in the traditional sense. He believes that all of modern society views literature the same way that he views it, declaring, "In times like ours, with millions facing penury and want, one feels that the qualities of the tour d'ivoire are well-nigh inhuman, nearly insulting
it is not self-intoxicated poets that our people need" (262). For such bias and selective criticism to be written in a literary magazine is a disgrace to the works of all literature, no matter what topic or message.
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