FEATURED EBOOK

Mary McCarthy, one of our most brilliant and beloved authors, serves up wit, insight, and her unique worldview in this diverse collection of essays

In provocatively titled pieces such as “The Contagion of Ideas,” “Tyranny of the Orgasm,” and “No News, or, What Killed the Dog,” Mary McCarthy expresses her frank, unflinching, often contrarian point of view.

Nothing—and no one—is safe from her merciless writer’s eye—from politics to the ever-changing social scene to the strengths and weaknesses of her native country, where she believes “passivity and not aggressiveness is the dominant trait of the American character.” On the Contrary also features a cast of memorable characters. In “Naming Names,” Arthur Miller’s testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee results in an indictment for contempt of Congress. McCarthy reviews The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt’s breakthrough book, and despairs of finding a “really American place” to take a visiting existentialist—a thinly disguised Simone de Beauvoir?

From Dickens to Gandhi to the Kinsey Reports, with pithy and wide-ranging articles on everything from fashion to fiction, the human condition, religion, and sex, On the Contrary raises controversial questions to which, even today, there are no easy answers.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Mary McCarthy including rare images from the author’s estate.

ABOUT Mary McCarthy

  • BIOGRAPHY

    Mary McCarthy (1912–1989) was an American literary critic and author of more than two dozen books including the 1963 New York Times bestseller The Group. Born in Seattle, McCarthy studied at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, and graduated in 1933. After moving to New York City, McCarthy became known for her incisive writing as a contributor to publications such as the Nation, the New Republic, and the New York Review of Books. Her debut novel, The Company She Keeps (1942), initiated her ascent to become one of the most celebrated writers of her generation, a reputation bolstered by the publication of her autobiography Memories of a Catholic Girlhood in 1957, as well as that of her now-classic novel The Group.

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