On the Contrary

On the Contrary

by Mary McCarthy

Hardcover(Library Binding)


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374954406
Publisher: Hippocrene Books, Inc.
Publication date: 04/01/1976
Pages: 321
Product dimensions: 6.50(w) x 1.50(h) x 9.50(d)

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On the Contrary 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
michaelm42071 on LibraryThing 28 days ago
The most memorable piece here is ¿Artists in Uniform,: McCarthy meets an anti-Semitic air force colonel on the train to St. Louis and engages him in futile argument. She doesn¿t think she comes off well; the problem is, of course, that discussion doesn¿t touch the colonel¿s problem. The story is ¿rehashed¿ in a piece later in the book where she uses it to talk about students¿ taste for symbol hunting.Another notable essay is ¿America the Beautiful: The Humanist in the Bathtub,¿ where McCarthy takes the interesting position that America is not materialistic: ¿The only really materialistic people I have ever met have been Europeans.¿ In America, she argues, ¿possessions . . . are not wanted for their own sakes, but as tokens of an ideal state of freedom, fraternity, and franchise.¿ The essay begins when she can¿t find ¿a really American place¿ to take ¿a visiting Existentialist¿¿Simone de Beauvoir, apparently, whose book on America McCarthy pans five years later.¿My Confession¿ describes how she accidentally became an anti-Communist, having agreed at a party that Trotsky deserved a hearing, without knowing anything about him. McCarthy writes a couple of pieces from Portugal, which she and her husband visited in the winter of 1955.She writes admiringly of Arthur Miller¿s decision to tell the HUAC anything they asked about himself and nothing about other people¿which resulted in his indictment for contempt of Congress. She reviews her friend Hannah Arendt¿s The Human Condition with its distinction among labor, work, and action and its bleak forecast of the disappearance of the last two.In a section on ¿Women,¿ McCarthy contemptuously dismisses a book coming out of the Kinsey reports; the essay is called ¿Tyranny of the Orgasm.¿ She spends a long time talking about Vogue¿s decline from austere fashion authoritarianism to breathless ¿Sapphic overtures¿ as well as about the rise of new magazines Mademoiselle, Glamour, Charm, with their ¿rhetoric of fashion as democracy.¿ She ignores, mostly, the consumer side of all this¿the fit of magazine with advertiser and what¿s being sold. Another long essay is ¿The Vassar Girl¿ about the college then and now.¿Literature and the Arts¿ is the last section, composed of a review of Edgar Johnson¿s book on Dickens, with McCarthy¿s defense of Dickens from the attack mounted by Anthony West in The New Yorker; and several talks on symbol and fiction, ¿the empiric element¿ of fact as the quidditas of the novel, and ¿Character in Fiction.¿