The Mary McCarthy Case | by Norman Mailer | The New York Review of BooksIn , eight young female friends graduate from Vassar College. The book describes these women's lives post-graduation, beginning with the marriage of one of the friends, Kay Strong, and ending with her funeral in Each character struggles with different issues, including sexism in the work place, child-rearing, financial difficulties, family crises, and sexual relationships. Nearly all the women's issues involve the men in their lives: fathers, employers, lovers, or husbands. As highly educated women from affluent backgrounds, they must strive for autonomy and independence in a time when a woman's role is still largely restricted to marriage and childbirth. The plot is influenced by the political and economic atmosphere of the time. Over the course of the book, the reader learns about the women's views on contraception, love, sex, socialism, and psychoanalysis.
The Group by Mary McCarthy
Pierson, is that she lets no one off the hook. August 21, Mary McCarthy, a preeminent voice in midth-century American political journalism and literary criticism, was also a bestselling fiction writer. Wonder at, for one thing, such dewy immediacy in year-old characters. And for those who press on into a first encounter with the work that came both before and after her career-defining bestseller, even bigger surprises await. The two volumes comprise a body of work that retains startling and unsettling relevance.
Mary McCarthy (–) was an American literary critic and author of more than two dozen books including the New York Times bestseller The Group.
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W hen it was first published in , The Group rapidly became a book that everyone read without wanting to admit it. Its frank descriptions of sex, contraception and breast-feeding as they affected a group of eight female graduates in s America caused such a scandal that the novel was banned in Australia as an offence to public morals. Norman Mailer, a man whose own writing did not shy away from graphic depictions of the sexual act, dismissed The Group in the New York Review of Books as "a trivial lady writer's novel" infused with a "communal odour [that] is a cross between Ma Griffe and contraceptive jelly". The book's author, Mary McCarthy, was not expecting such a furore. In spite of her status as one of America's leading women of letters, a writer with a reputation for acerbic insights and penetrating prose, she found that the intellectual, liberal circles in which she moved were quick to disparage her bestseller as little more than a superficial potboiler. At a dinner party in New York two months after its publication, the year-old McCarthy burst into tears when a fellow guest admitted that he did not like the book, and when her close friend, the critic Elizabeth Hardwick, wrote a mean-spirited satire in the Partisan Review , McCarthy was hurt and puzzled by the betrayal. For years afterwards, McCarthy received letters from irate readers accusing her of a "perverted outlook on life".
Welcome sign in sign up. It had to happen. It was in the command of all the ironies that there would come a day when our First Lady of Letters would write a book and lo! Yet it has happened to Mary, our saint, our umpire, our lit arbiter, our broadsword, our Barrymore Ethel , our Dame dowager , our mistress Head , our Joan of Arc, the only Joan of Arc to travel up and down our raddled literary world, our poor damp kingdom, her sword breathing fire while she looked for a Dauphin to save us, looked these twenty years, and brought back nought. Even the patience of Joan cannot endure. The Group clearly is one of the best novels of the decade. Is this true guilt or innocence in disarray?