By Eve Stwertka, Margo Viscusi
This selection of essays through a various team of younger teachers, validated critics, and famous writers moves an exciting stability among scholarship and memory. the one full-length ebook on Mary McCarthy that isn't a biography, this quantity includes discussions of McCarthy as a member of the recent York intelligentsia, her look for a simply and moral political philosophy, and the anomaly of her perspectives on feminism. The members comprise McCarthy biographers Carol Brightman, Carol Gelderman, and Fran Kiernan; novelists Thomas Flanagan, Maureen Howard, and Thomas Mallon; Pulitzer Prize successful journalist Frances Fitzgerald; and critics Morris Dickstein and Katie Roiphe. The e-book concludes with a relocating memory by way of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
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Additional info for Twenty-Four Ways of Looking at Mary McCarthy: The Writer and Her Work
In “Ghostly Father, I Confess,” Meg Sargent begins by confidently mocking her analyst: his taste is vulgar, his intelligence scarcely matches hers. “She had enjoyed doing that malicious portrait,” she thinks. When he questions her about it, she says simply, “I’ve got a good eye for social types, and I’ve had a lot of practice” (253). But what she’s really doing, it turns out as the story proceeds, is resisting the reflux of her melodramatic past, the burden of a 24 Twenty-Four Ways of Looking at Mary McCarthy miserable childhood and an unhappy self that she had utterly suppressed until marriage to Wilson made her feel helpless and imprisoned.
For Mailer this adds up to her being “simply not a good enough woman to write a major novel, not yet” (138–39). The entire review is ugly, brutal, and insulting, but Mailer pays a backhanded tribute by his inability to call McCarthy a lady. About McCarthy he has to use the word “woman,” even though she is “not yet” a good enough one. A lady could never be a bitch—it takes a woman. The implicit and explicit imputations of “bitch” by Mailer and others, though not exactly a compliment to McCarthy, are surely an acknowledgment Our Leading Bitch Intellectual 33 of her singular authority, courage, and self-possession.
If he is not an intellectual, as she is, then he must somehow represent Ordinary Life, with which intellectuals are always in danger of losing touch. Leapfrogging from one fantasy to another, she sees in him what she misses in all the men she knows in New York, “the shrewd buyer’s eye, the swift brutal appraisal” (111). Of the men she had been with, she feels, In one way or another they were all of them lame ducks. The handsome ones, like her fiancé, were good-for-nothing, the reliable ones, like her husband, were peculiar-looking, the well-to-do ones were short and wore lifts in their shoes or fat with glasses, the clever ones were alcoholic or slightly homosexual, the serious ones were foreigners or else wore beards or black shirts or were desperately poor and had no table manners.
Twenty-Four Ways of Looking at Mary McCarthy: The Writer and Her Work by Eve Stwertka, Margo Viscusi