Hilton’s writings speak for themselves: They are models of intellectual ardor, aesthetic discrimination, and critical independence. He was, as his faithful readers knew, a champion of aesthetic greatness, of high modernism in literature and art, of human liberty, and, most broadly, of civilization itself; and he was an enemy of fashionable, trashy postmodernism, of all the new, pernicious “isms” that rejected the very concept of aesthetic or literary merit, and of Communism and its fellow travelers. He was always serious, because he took culture and art seriously and had a genuine, and thoroughly legitimate, sense of urgency about the direction in which culture and art were headed. But his seriousness was never a dull, plodding affair. He wrote with the passion of a crusader, and with an acerbic wit that was inimitable.

But what people who were familiar only with his work could not know was that Hilton was also a...


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