Friday, July 05, 2013
Mary McCarthy's Unforgotten Novel
I've never had that much interest in reading Mary McCarthy's novel The Group, or seeing Sidney Lumet's film of it. Nonetheless, I was perfectly fascinated by Laura Jacobs article on book, author and the lingering controversies attached to both in the recent Vanity Fair -- a compact, highly readable education on the book as both a literary work and a social document. It was apparently quite the book of its time, drawing strong reactions from the Vassar girls portrayed in it (especially the poet Elizabeth Bishop) as well as critics ranging from Norman Mailer to Dwight McDonald to Elizabeth Hardwick. Everybody had to have something to say about it, back in those golden days when the work of a powerful, intellectually forbidding author could seize the cultural moment. I guess those days are gone for good.