Three Honest Men
In the mid-1970s, Philip French, a film critic for the Observer and producer of talks and documentaries for the BBC’s Third Programme, now Radio Three, produced three programs on major literary critics, taking Edmund Wilson, F. R. Leavis, and Lionel Trilling as his subjects. Splicing together queries and observations of his own with taped reminiscences by others, French assembled what he called “critical mosaics,” in which the outlines of these critics’ careers were drawn, to the degree they could be, in miniature. It is the method of oral history brought to the history of ideas, and as any documentarian knows it is no simple matter to select the right commentators and to elicit from them responses that are both exact and mutually complementary.
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.