Mary McCarthy

Sean Witters (Brandeis University)
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Mary McCarthy emerged out of the “New York intellectual” scene of the 1930s to become a mainstay of the literary culture of the Cold War era. From her first novel to her posthumous memoir, McCarthy explored perception, intimacy, social dynamics, gender roles, ideology, and culture with cutting wit, deliberate prose, and terrible honesty. While the defining feature of McCarthy’s life might have been her commitment to speaking and writing “on the contrary”, she was not content to simply celebrate dissidence, using her writing, instead, to study the way public and private dissent conditions the individual's identity.

Mary Therese McCarthy was born June 21, 1912 in Seattle, Washington to Roy McCarthy and Therese “Tess” …

7212 words

Citation: Witters, Sean. "Mary McCarthy". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 March 2008 [, accessed 28 May 2023.]

3028 Mary McCarthy 1 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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